Job Analysis Methods

Job analysis information can be gathered in a variety of ways. One consideration is who is to conduct the job analysis. Most frequently, a member of the HR staff coordinates this effort. Depending on which of the methods discussed next is used, others who often participate are managers, supervisors, and employees doing the jobs. For more complex analyses, industrial engineers may conduct time and motion studies.


Another consideration is the method to be used. Common methods are observations, interviews, questionnaires, and specialized methods of analysis. Combinations of these approaches frequently are used, depending on the situation and the organization. Each of these methods is discussed in some detail next.

Observation : When the observation method is used, a manager, job analyst, or industrial engineer observes the individual performing the job and takes notes to describe the tasks and duties performed. Observation may be continuous or based on intermittent sampling.

Use of the observation method is limited because many jobs do not have complete and easily observed job duties or complete job cycles. Thus, observation may be more useful for repetitive jobs and in conjunction with other methods. Managers or job analysts using other methods may watch parts of a job being performed to gain a general familiarity with the job and the conditions under which it is performed. Multiple observations on several occasions also will help them use some of the other job analysis methods more effectively.

WORK SAMPLING As a type of observation, work sampling does not require attention to each detailed action throughout an entire work cycle. Instead, a manager can determine the content and pace of a typical workday through statistical sampling of certain actions rather than through continuous observation and timing of all actions. Work sampling is particularly useful for routine and repetitive jobs.

EMPLOYEE DIARY/LOG Another method requires that employees “observe” their own performances by keeping a diary/log of their job duties, noting how frequently
they are performed and the time required for each duty. Although this approach sometimes generates useful information, it may be burdensome for employees to compile an accurate log. Also, employees sometimes perceive this approach as creating needless documentation that detracts from the performance of their work.

Interviewing : The interview method of gathering information requires that a manager or HR specialist visit each job site and talk with the employees performing each job. A standardized interview form is used most often to record the information. Frequently, both the employee and the employee’s supervisor must be interviewed to obtain a complete understanding of the job.

Some typical interview questions include:
– What is the job being performed?
– What are the major duties of your job position? What exactly do you do?
– What physical locations do you work in?
– What are the education, experience, skill, and [where applicable] certification and
– licensing requirements?
– In what activities do you participate?
– What are the job’s responsibilities and duties?
– What are the basic accountabilities or performance standards that typify your work?
– What are your responsibilities? What are the environmental and working conditions
– What are the job’s physical demands? The emotional and mental demands?
– What are the health and safety conditions?
– Are you exposed to any hazards or unusual working conditions?

The interview method can be quite time consuming, especially if the interviewer talks with two or three employees doing each job. Professional and managerial jobs often are more complicated to analyze and usually require longer interviews. For these reasons, combining the interview with one of the other methods is suggested.

Questionnaires : The questionnaire is a widely used method of gathering data on jobs. A survey instrument is developed and given to employees and managers to complete. The typical job questionnaire often covers the areas shown below. The major advantage of the questionnaire method is that information on a large number of jobs can be collected inexpensively in a relatively short period of time. However, the questionnaire method assumes that employees can accurately analyze and communicate information about their jobs. Employees may vary in their perceptions of the jobs, and even in their literacy. For these reasons, the questionnaire method is usually combined with interviews and observations to
clarify and verify the questionnaire information.

One type of questionnaire sometimes used is a checklist. Differing from the open-ended questionnaire, the checklist offers a simplified way for employees to give information. An obvious difficulty with the checklist is constructing it, which can be a complicated and detailed process.

Job Analysis Questionnaire
– Materials and equipment used
– Financial/budgeting input
– External and internal contacts
– Knowledge, skills, and abilities used
– Working conditions
– Special duties performed less frequently
– Duties and percentage of time spent on each
– Work coordination and supervisory responsibilities
– Physical activities and characteristics
– Decisions made and discretion exercised
– Records and reports prepared
– Training needed

Critical incident technique. The critical incident technique involves observation and recording of examples of particularly effective or ineffective behaviors. Behaviors are judged to be “effective” or “ineffective” in terms of results produced by the behavior.

The following information should be recorded for each “critical incident” of behavior: (1) what led up to the incident and the situation in which it occurred; (2) exactly what the employee did that was particularly effective or ineffective; (3) the perceived consequences or results of the behavior; and (4) a judgment as to the degree of control an employee had over the results his or her behavior produced (to what degree should the employee be held responsible for what resulted?).

The critical incident method differs from direct observation and work methods analysis in that observations of behavior are not recorded as the behavior occurs, but only after the behavior has been judged to be either particularly effective or ineffective in terms of results produced. This means that a person using the critical incident method must describe a behavior in retrospect, or after the fact, rather than as the activity unfolds. Accurate recording of past observations is more difficult than recording the behaviors as they occur.

Job Analysis and the U.S. Department of Labor A variety of resources related to job analysis are available from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The resources have been developed and used over many years by various entities with the DOL, primarily the Employment and Training Administration.

This method is a comprehensive approach to job analysis. FJA considers:
– goals of the organization,
– what workers do to achieve those goals in their jobs,
– level and orientation of what workers do,
– performance standards, and
– training content.

A functional definition of what is done in a job can be generated by examining the three components of data, people, and things. The levels of these components are used to identify and compare important elements of jobs given in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), a standardized data source provided by the federal government.

Specialized Job Analysis Methods Several job analysis methods are built on the questionnaire approach. Some of these methods are described next.

The Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) developed by McCormick, Jeanneret, and Mecham (1972) is a structured job analysis instrument to measure job characteristics and relate them to human characteristics.

The PAQ is a specialized questionnaire method incorporating checklists. Each job is analyzed on 27 dimensions composed of 187 “elements.” The PAQ comprises six divisions, with each division containing numerous job elements. The divisions include:

– Information input: Where and how does the worker get information to do the job?
– Mental process: What levels of reasoning are necessary on the job?
– Work output: What physical activities are performed?
– Relationships with others: What relationships are required to perform the job?
– Job context: What working conditions and social contexts are involved?
– Other: What else is relevant to the job?

The PAQ focuses on “worker-oriented” elements that describe behaviors necessary to do the job, rather than on “job-oriented” elements that describe the technical aspects of the work. Although its complexity may deter many potential users, the PAQ is easily quantified and can be used to conduct validity studies on selection tests. It is also useful in helping to ensure internal pay fairness because it considers the varying demands of different jobs.

Because managerial jobs are different in character from jobs with clearly observable routines and procedures, some specialized methods have evolved for their analysis. One of the most well known and widely used methods was developed at Control Data Corporation and is labeled the Management Position Description Questionnaire (MPDQ). Composed of a listing of over 200 statements, the MPDQ examines a variety of managerial dimensions, including decision making and supervising.

Computerized Job Analysis As computer technology has expanded, researchers have developed computerized job analysis systems. They all have several common characteristics, including the way they are administered. First, analysts compose task statements that relate to all jobs. They are then distributed as questionnaires that list the task statements. Next, employee responses on computer-scannable documents are fed into computer-based scoring and reporting services capable of recording, analyzing, and reporting thousands of pieces of information about any job.

An important feature of computerized job analysis sources is the specificity of data that can be gathered. All of this specific data is compiled into a job analysis database.

A computerized job analysis system often can reduce the time and effort involved in writing job descriptions. These systems have banks of job duty statements that relate to each of the task and scope statements of the questionnaires.

As is evident, the melding of computer technology with job analysis methodology allows firms to develop more accurate and comprehensive job descriptions, linked to compensation programs, and performance appraisal systems. These processes can also provide better data for legal defensibility than was once available.

Combination Methods There are indeed a number of different ways to obtain and analyze information about a job. No specific job analysis method has received the stamp of approval from the various courts in all situations. Therefore, in dealing with issues that may end up in court, care must be taken by HR specialists and those doing the job analysis to document all of the steps taken. Each of the methods has strengths and weaknesses, and a combination of methods generally is preferred over one method alone.

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