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How to Perform a Job Analysis


Amy Shaw, Ph.D. Senior Assessment Scientist


Talent acquisition has a significant economic impact on the profitability of your organization. Yet, finding and matching the right people to the right jobs is a daunting task. Job analysis increases the success of your hiring decisions.

What is Job Analysis?

Job analysis is the process of collecting information about a job’s duties and the competencies necessary to successfully perform the job.

There are two types of job analysis: Job-oriented traditional job analysis and person-oriented competency modeling. Job-oriented analysis provides detailed information about the tasks done and the work context, whereas competency modeling focuses on the personal characteristics required to perform the job well.

Competency modeling has gained popularity for its emphasis on the knowledge, skills, abilities and other personal characteristics (KSAOs) that differentiate superior and average performers. The main benefit of job analysis is that it provides standards against which to assess job applicants’ qualifications during the selection process.

What are the Benefits?

According to a 2014 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, 73% of HR professionals use job analysis data for recruitment. Below is a list of advantages of utilizing job analysis for your employment decision making in several directions.

  • Accuracy: A well-conducted job analysis gives you an accurate understanding of the KSAOs or competencies needed by someone to succeed in a given job. Every step of the hiring process depends on a thorough understanding of the job-related tasks and the competencies workers must have to fulfill their roles successfully. With job analysis, you get a better sense of what to look for in your candidates, and your selection criteria can be designed to reveal the most qualified candidates for a specific position.
  • Objectivity: Job analysis outlines the competencies required of the job. Competencies are defined in terms of observable behaviors, and therefore can be evaluated by assessment tools. Assessments balance the subjectivity of your “gut feeling,” which has been shown to result in a 50% hiring failure rate.
  • Consistency: Job analysis increases the consistency of your hiring decisions. With the same framework provided by job analysis, you can make a consistent competency-based comparison between candidates. And when all stakeholders are using the same framework, they provide more consistent ratings, making hiring decisions easier.
  • Legal defensibility: Because of the increased accuracy, objectivity, and consistency, job analysis provides legal protection for your organization. When you compare candidates against standards established by a job analysis, it means your hiring decisions are made based on job-related criteria, rather than race, gender, age, or country of origin.

How Do You Collect the Data?

There are a variety of approaches to collecting job analysis information and each comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Method Description Strengths Weaknesses
Perform the Job A job analyst performs the tasks of the job being studied. Obtains first-hand information about the job tasks and context in which job is done. Time-consuming; practically only works for entry-level jobs that do not require specific skills to perform the tasks; not suitable for jobs that require extensive training or are performed in hazardous environments.
Observation A job analyst visits the job site to directly observe job incumbents performing the tasks. Observation can also be made indirectly via video or audiotape. Works well when the job is repetitive and short cycle (e.g., manual jobs and tasks); provides a relatively objective view of the job. Time-consuming; incumbents may change their behaviors because they know they are under observation; not suitable for non-repetitive, long-cycle, and creative or “thinking” tasks.
Work Sample A job analyst analyzes typical and common work output produced in the course of performing the job. Works for non-repetitive, long-cycle, and creative or “thinking” tasks; provides a relatively objective view; results oriented. Fails to show context in which tasks are done; the available work samples may not be representative of the overall job.
Work Diary Work diary is the description of daily activities maintained for a period of time. This approach requires that employees record all tasks performed and the details of each task. Provides rich and detailed information about the job tasks and context; suitable for nonrepetitive, long-cycle, and creative or “thinking” tasks. Burdensome to employees; relies heavily on the diary keepers’ diligence; subjective and the accuracy can be questionable.
Interview A job analyst conducts individual or group interviews of job incumbents, supervisors, former jobholders, clients, or other individuals with knowledge about the job. This is the most commonly used approach. Generates rich and “deep” information; provides multiple perspectives on a job. Time-consuming; lacks anonymity when conducted in groups.
Structured Questionnaire A standardized questionnaire is given to individuals with knowledge about the job. The responses are then collected and compared by a job analyst to determine the essential job elements. Large organizations (compared to small to medium size ones) are more likely to use this approach. Provides rich data about the job in a relatively short time; easy to quantify and analyze statistically; can reach a large number of incumbents; efficient, inexpensive, and anonymous. Limits respondents to questions asked in the questionnaire; ignores the context in which job is done; relies on respondents’ literacy and ability to evaluate the job objectively.
Archival Materials A job analyst can analyze existing documents such as job descriptions, organizational charts, and training manuals to get a sense of how the job is currently structured and what is currently expected on the job. Saves time for the organization; economical and anonymous. Documents may not exist in usable form or may be outdated.

Among these common techniques, the most popular methods are observation, interview, and structured questionnaires. For the best result, combine multiple job analysis approaches to balance the strengths and weaknesses of each method. A single approach is rarely adequate to capture all the relevant information. There is no magic formula to decide how many or which approaches to combine for a given job. It depends on the time/resource constraints and specific needs of the organization. Ideally, both qualitative and quantitative data are obtained. For example, a job analyst may observe incumbents performing the tasks to get a feel for the context and then administer questionnaires to get more information from a wide range of incumbents with the same job title. 

Berke Job Analysis

Job analysis is a critical component of the Berke Assessment. Job analysis is necessary to create the predictive hiring profiles that help you identify the best candidates for the job. Our benchmark studies also rely on job analysis to help you replicate your top performers.

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