A job analysis involves gathering in-depth details about a job role. The goal is to understand what the work environment is like, what the job requires employees to do, and what competencies they must possess to perform the job effectively.
Here are 5 steps to conduct a job analysis:
- Outline the job requirements
- Explore the desired outcomes for the role
- Find out what training is required on the job
- Determine a realistic and fair compensation package
- Lastly, continue to evolve the job as things change
What Is a Job Analysis?
A job analysis is a formalized way to collect and analyze information about a job role. For hiring and recruitment purposes, HR professionals use job analysis to accurately capture the activities, competencies, and context of the job to ensure every element of the interview process is job-relevant. The OPM summarizes the function of this process well: “Job analysis is the foundation for all assessment and selection decisions.”
A job analysis breaks an entire job down into smaller pieces, like tasks, using a systematic method for gathering and synthesizing data. The information collected includes:
What employees do on the job
What competencies are needed to do the job well
The resources that are used to do the job
The job’s environment or conditions
Depending on the job analysis method, the process is led by a qualified HR practitioner, job analyst, or consultant who has a clear picture of HR’s strategic objectives.
Job analysis data informs a number of different HR functions. In this article, we’ll be focusing on using job analysis data to enable a better interview process.
In hiring, the structured interview process is based on a job analysis.
Start conducting structured interviewsLearn how to conduct a structured interview
Why Is a Job Analysis Important?
Trying to make hiring decisions without having crucial information about the roles at your organization is a bit like trying to bake a cake without knowing what kind of cake it is, or what it’s supposed to taste or look like. You cannot make the right decision without understanding what you’re looking for. Here are four reasons why a job analysis is so important:
- Operational context: Having access to more information allows you to stop second-guessing and make more effective decisions. With the full picture of a role, you can confidently do things like provide a realistic job preview during the hiring process and put together an effective training plan.
- Organizational impact: The more you understand the roles at your organization, the more strategic you can be when making decisions. A job analysis can also help you find points of differentiation between similar roles and to better understand how they fit with the positions they interact with.
- Role definition: Some hiring managers may not understand the full picture of a position they manage, leading to poor hiring decisions. A job analysis can clarify expectations for new employees, validate compensation bands, and better inform hiring managers about the roles they supervise.
- Identify key requirements: A job analysis defines what competencies a great candidate should bring to the table, the minimum qualifications needed to perform the role, and which competencies are mission-critical, so you stand a better chance of hiring and retaining the right person.
“Job analysis has always been, and will continue
to be in the foreseeable future, a valuable
informational tool in human resource
-Parbudyal Singh, in an article for Human Resource Management Review.
Types of Job Analysis Data
What kind of information is collected in a job analysis? Job analysis data can generally be divided into three categories: activities, competencies, and context.
What does this role do and look after? What are the basic functions of the job?
What competencies are necessary to do the job well?
- Other characteristics
How would you describe this role’s work environment?
Who and what is involved?
- Supervision (given and received)
- Working conditions
- Internal and external interactions
- Equipment, tools, apps, or software used in the role
What Is Job Analysis Data Used For?
While there are many HR uses for job analysis data, it can be used to improve a structured hiring and recruitment process.
Setting Job Specifications
What specifications does a candidate need to qualify for a
role and what can they learn?
A job analysis can help you answer that. Specifications include education, work experience, and professional qualifications or certifications.
Creating Detailed Job Descriptions
Job seekers don’t want to apply for a job if the description is unclear. Unfortunately, Burnett’s Staffing said being too vague is the #1 mistake employers make when writing job descriptions.
Modern job descriptions are very detailed, going the extra mile to sell candidates on the role and the organization. A job analysis will not only save you time drafting the job description, but it will also help your organization stand out and attract suitable candidates.
Developing Selection Assessments
Selection assessments are a great way of inviting candidates to demonstrate how they would complete a real task they would encounter in the role. A job analysis reveals what tasks or competencies are most critical to a role, so data can be used to develop assessments that evaluate what is most important. They can also help determine what assessment methods (competency-based or task-based) are most appropriate for a given job.
Outside of hiring, what is job analysis data used for?
Outside of the context of hiring and recruitment, job analysis data can be used to:
- Meet legal requirements
- Identify health or safety hazards
- Analyze work activities to optimize employee efficiency
- Identify training gaps
- Support employee development
- Enhance employee training programs
- Set the minimum specifications for a position
- Create worker mobility (inform promotions or job departures)
- Inform performance reviews and feedback
Formal Job Analysis Methods and Processes for Structured Interviewing
There are several formal ways HR teams can conduct a job analysis. When incorporating job analysis as the first step in your structured hiring process, keep in mind that some methods are more helpful than others.
A study in the Academy of Management Journal evaluated several job analysis methods against each other to see what method was most effective for each purpose. It identified the job analysis methods that were best for writing job descriptions and setting job specifications: Threshold Traits Analysis (TTA), Task Inventory (TI), Functional Job Analysis (FJA), and the Job Elements Method. Some other common job analysis processes used in HR functions are Critical Incident Technique (CIT) and Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ).
|Name of Method
|Best use case for hiring
|Functional Job Analysis (FJA)
|An FJA will help teams create accurate job descriptions by defining the necessary work activities, responsibilities, and qualifications required to perform the job well. This method focuses on specific tasks rather than outcomes (as they can be achieved in numerous ways).
|Writing job descriptions
|Task Inventory (TI)
|A task inventory is a structured list of all the tasks related to a specific job, scoring their frequency, importance, and difficulty. This method is completed collaboratively, as the manager, subject matter experts, and employees in the position work together to complete this list.
|Writing job descriptions and job classification
|Threshold Traits Analysis (TTA)
|TTA is a method for identifying the traits required to perform a job effectively. It uses a collaborative approach where those who know the job role (such as someone with the job title, and their manager) rate the importance, uniqueness, relevance, level, and practicality of 33 traits for the role.
|Personnel requirements and job classification
|Job Elements Method
|A main objective of JEM is to identify workers’ eligibility for a job. This methodology compares applicants’ abilities against the job requirements, focusing on the attributes needed for top job performance.
|Critical Incident Technique (CIT)
|A critical incident is when an action, or actions, contribute to an effective or an ineffective outcome. The CIT is a task analysis technique that helps you identify good and bad behaviors that contribute to critical incidents.
|Providing performance reviews and feedback
|Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ)
|A PAQ is the most standardized way of comparing different positions using quantitative and qualitative data. According to HR Guide, the PAQ contains hundreds of job elements that cover five categories: information input, mental processes, work output, relationships with others, and job context. This is based on data from thousands of jobs.
|Job classification and job evaluation (used to determine salary)
Name of Method: Functional Job Analysis (FJA)
Description: An FJA will help teams create accurate job descriptions by defining the necessary work activities, responsibilities, and qualifications required to perform the job well. This method focuses on specific tasks rather than outcomes (as they can be achieved in numerous ways).
Best use case for hiring: Writing job descriptions
Name of Method: Task Inventory (TI)
Description: A task inventory is a structured list of all the tasks related to a specific job, scoring their frequency, importance, and difficulty. This method is completed collaboratively, as the manager, subject matter experts, and employees in the position work together to complete this list.
Best use case for hiring: Writing job descriptions and job classification
Name of Method: Threshold Traits Analysis (TTA)
Description: TTA is a method for identifying the traits required to perform a job effectively. It uses a collaborative approach where those who know the job role (such as someone with the job title, and their manager) rate the importance, uniqueness, relevance, level, and practicality of 33 traits for the role.
Best use case for hiring: Personnel requirements and job classification
Name of Method: Job Elements Method
Description: A main objective of JEM is to identify workers’ eligibility for a job. This methodology compares applicants’ abilities against the job requirements, focusing on the attributes needed for top job performance.
Best use case for hiring: Personnel requirements
Name of Method: Critical Incident Technique (CIT)
Description: A critical incident is when an action, or actions, contribute to an effective or an ineffective outcome. The CIT is a task analysis technique that helps you identify good and bad behaviors that contribute to critical incidents.
Best use case for hiring: Providing performance reviews and feedback
Name of Method: Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ)
Description: A PAQ is the most standardized way of comparing different positions using quantitative and qualitative data. According to HR Guide, the PAQ contains hundreds of job elements that cover five categories: information input, mental processes, work output, relationships with others, and job context. This is based on data from thousands of jobs.
Best use case for hiring: Job classification and job evaluation (used to determine salary)
In a lot of circumstances, it’s useful to use a combination of these methods to get the full picture. The Academy of Management Journal evaluation mentioned above demonstrates that using one method may give you a different response than if you use another.
Commonly used job analysis data collection methods
More typically, HR teams use a variety of approaches to get the best understanding of a job role. Here is an overview of common job analysis data collection techniques:
Work Log or Diary
The work diary or log method (also referred to as the daily method) requires an incumbent employee to record all their daily activities for a short period of time. This includes what the task is, the amount of time spent on the task, and the perceived importance or urgency.
Direct observation is meant to provide a realistic view of the position’s activities and context. A manager, qualified HR practitioner, job analyst, or consultant would watch an employee perform their tasks without getting involved.
Questionnaires are one of the most affordable and accessible ways to collect job analysis data. O*NET has generic, structured questionnaires available for job incumbents or subject matter experts to fill out as “a starting point to collect occupational data”.
Scope out what competitors and other comparable companies are asking for in terms of job titles and their requirements and duties. Review a variety of other companies to ensure you’re getting an accurate stance on what the most vital and relevant expectations are.
Doing a job analysis interview involves booking an in-person or video interview where a manager would speak to an employee who currently holds the position or an employee who has held it in the past. Depending on the role, you could also interview people in adjacent positions.
Similar to direct observation, the interviewer would simply be responsible for leading the interview and capturing the employee’s viewpoint. Ideally, you’d interview more than one employee to collect multiple perspectives on a job role and use predetermined questions to standardize your job analysis interview.
In this method, a job analyst would actually perform work activities of the role to understand stressors, contextual factors (physical risks, for example), and scenarios job holders face.
This method provides a first-hand experience of what the job physically and mentally entails, which is more visceral than simply listing things out.
The job performance method is similar to the direct observation method, except in the direct observation method, the person cataloging the job information does not participate at all.
How To Conduct a Job Analysis
Depending on the job role and industry, there can be several different steps needed to conduct a sufficient job analysis. For a simplified, yet helpful approach, here are the main components of a job analysis that should cover most job types.
1. Outline the job requirements
The first step is to outline the job role in terms of duties, responsibilities, and expectations. This step helps you develop an accurate job description, though it’s necessary to complete all components beforehand to give candidates the most comprehensive summary of a role.
- The day-to-day job duties (and the difficulty and importance of each duty)
- Other responsibilities and their importance
- Skills needed to do the job successfully
- Qualifications and experience needed to be considered for the role
Best ways to collect information about job requirements
Work Log or Diary
2. Explore the desired outcomes for the role
Consider the bigger picture of this role – how does this position benefit the organization as a whole? Every job is connected to the success of other roles. Outlining what you hope to get out of the position is as important as what you put into it. This step, along with the previous step, are the most important to help you build an effective interview plan and fairly evaluate candidates based on your definition of success.
- How the role aligns with the organization’s overall goals
- How the role contributes to larger projects with other teams
- Soft skills desired for the role
- Specific 30-60-90 goals for the role
- How success will be measured as tenure evolves
Top methods to learn about desired role outcomes
3. Find out what training is required on the job
Learn what tools and training are required for a new hire to achieve both short and long-term success. Discover what your organization needs to provide them with to help them truly master their role. For each training component, consider who will need to train them, how long it will take, and how that will impact their workload.
- Onboarding necessities (orientation and high-level organization goals/expectations)
- Organization-related product or service training relative to the role
- Required training for programs and tools used in the role
Most effective ways to discover the required training
Work Log or Diary
4. Determine a realistic and fair compensation package
It can be hard to determine a fair salary – there are a lot of variables such as the experience of a candidate, and how lucrative an offer needs to be to fill the position successfully. By following the steps involved in a job analysis, you should be able to summarize key job details needed for determining a fair compensation package.
- Fair salary bracket based on job role and experience
- Benefits based on organization standards or job role
- How the salary bracket compares to similar positions in the company
- How the salary compares to competitors’ similar roles
Best approaches to determine an ideal compensation
5. Lastly, continue to evolve the job as things change
A job analysis is not a one-and-done activity. As time goes on, the expectations and duties for a position change. This can be due to factors such as the company evolving, or a transition in the industry or the economy as a whole.
Some jobs evolve more frequently than others, especially in the case of jobs that involve any kind of technology. In these cases, you’ll want to consider refreshing your analysis annually. However, if a position is relatively unchanging, then you’ll only need to review and refresh the job analysis as needed.
An up-to-date analysis of every position means job descriptions, expectations, and compensation are kept relative. Ultimately, with your finger on the pulse, you’ll keep attracting candidates who are the right fit for the role.
When creating a job analysis, it’s best practice to do so for all available jobs, not solely for one job – there could be ways to optimize roles. For example, you may notice an overlap in responsibilities, or another role would be better suited for a task.
Frequently Asked Questions
Job Description vs. Job Analysis: What’s the Difference?
A job analysis is the process of gathering information about the competencies a candidate should have, and everything the candidate needs to perform, in order to do a job effectively.
A job description is a written statement describing a job opportunity to a job seeker. They include the job title, desired competencies, required certifications, working conditions, and tasks and responsibilities.
Job descriptions live on job board sites because they are intended for an external audience, whereas a job analysis is primarily conducted and created for internal use.
When Should You Conduct a Job Analysis?
Here’s a list of some examples of when to conduct a job analysis:
- When you introduce a new position that is unlike any other position at your organization
- There is a need to combine multiple jobs into a single, new job
- Organizational or departmental restructuring
- Changing organizational values
- The nature of the job or work has changed
- There is a need to revisit compensation for any reason
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