Job analysis

A job analysis is a process for systematically collecting information to help you fully understand and describe the duties and responsibilities of a position, as well as the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to do the job. This information will be used to develop an accurate job description.

A job analysis is usually conducted when an organization’s job descriptions are missing or out of date. Many organizations conduct job analysis activities on an annual basis.

The types of information collected during job analysis will be specific to each organization. However, the typical kinds of information you can gather are:

  • Supervisory responsibilities
  • Experience
  • Educational requirements
  • Competencies and behaviours
  • Special qualifications
  • Summary of duties
  • Frequency of supervision
  • Authority for decision making
  • Others the incumbent must be in contact with
  • Equipment/tools used
  • Responsibility for records/reports/files
  • Working conditions
  • Physical demands of the job
  • Mental demands of the job

Job analysis methods should be quantitative and systematic, and their use will depend on the circumstances of each organization. You need to ensure that the information collected is accurate and can be confirmed from several sources.

It's also best to survey a group of employees to establish a valid baseline for tasks or responsibilities you’re trying to better understand.

To perform a job analysis, you can use a variety of techniques such as:

Job analysis interviews

With this technique, you ask the employee currently in the role, supervisor, or director a series of questions about the job, including its main tasks, the desired impact, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform well in the job.

An example of a job analysis method that uses interviews is the critical incident methodopens in new tab. This approach involves asking employees what their job is and how they do it, including any equipment they use. This will enable you to get a sense of the fundamental aspects of the job. A common approach is to write them out as 5–10 task statements. The advantage of this method is that it gives a complete picture of the job which is easy to understand by someone unfamiliar with the job being described

Job analysis questionnaires

Questionnaires contain a carefully selected set of questions that are shared with job holders and managers to complete. An example of this is the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ). This tool uses a list of about 200 standard work-oriented tasks and ranks them on a scale of one to five. The advantage of this method is that you can use the results for statistical analysis.

Job analysis observation

The person collecting the data observes the activities of the employee and records them on a standardized form. Direct observation of the employee at work is a useful technique but only if the activities are easily observable. However, this technique may be less useful when the tasks under study are very technical such as software development or accounting.

Job analysis activity logs

The person collecting the data asks the employee to keep a log of every activity and the time spent on it for a set timeframe. For example, a job analyst might want to know how long a specific task takes and how much it varies, how many clients are served in a given time frame, and/or how many calls or emails are received in a day. By routinely recording these details, you can determine how many jobs to create or how work needs to be arranged within a job.

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