This Month in I/O: Job Analysis

Below is the second blog in a series that will discuss broad-based Industrial & Organizational (...



Posted by Allegra Krajci and Dr. Thomas Carnahan on January 16 2023

Below is the second blog in a series that will discuss broad-based Industrial & Organizational (I/O) topics. The series will continue for the next several months and cover important questions and topics for HR professionals.

How do employers know what assessments to use, who to hire, how to compensate, what to reward for performance, or how to promote, train, or develop leaders?? The answer in many cases may be job analysis. While it may seem too good to be true, organizations that provide resources to do job analysis get the information needed to build almost every HR program.

Job Analysis is the process of studying a job to determine the duties, responsibilities, knowledge, competencies, physical and mental requirements and working conditions that are necessary to perform the job. Job analysis can be a time-consuming process, but the outcomes are an important building block for creating HR programs that are both accurate and legally defensible. In the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection it states that employers should validate that selection criteria are related to job performance. Not only can job analysis be used to validate selection methods, but it is typically the first step when designing personnel assessments.

Job analysis consists of collecting and analyzing extensive data on a job to determine the task requirements and individual requirements, or KSAOAPs (knowledge, skills, abilities, other characteristics, and physical abilities), that are needed to successfully perform the job tasks. It’s important to remember that job analysis is being conducted on the characteristics of the job, not the person who holds the position. Job Analysis is recommended when creating a new job or when a job’s responsibilities have significantly changed, whether through organizational restructuring or by the implementation of new tools and technologies.

There are many data collection methods used when conducting a job analysis such as interviews with SMEs (subject matter experts), questionnaires, and observation studies. Oftentimes, a mix of data collection methods are used to gather the most accurate and detailed information. The main steps to conducting a job analysis are often as follows:

  1. Determine the goal of the job analysis (e.g., update job description)
  2. The analyst needs to review external and internal information to learn more about the company and job.
  3. Site observations: The analyst should do a shift/observation of employees doing the job to better learn about the job and build questions for incumbents and supervisors.
  4. Development of Task Statements/Job Duties: Hold meetings with incumbents to learn more about the “what” is done on the job.
  5. Development of KSAOPA and Competencies: Hold meetings with supervisors to review and amend the job task statements created by incumbents and develop a list of personal characteristics that are necessary for successful job completion.
  6. Job Analysis Questionnaires: These are for incumbents and supervisors and are designed to gather information to ensure accuracy, completeness, and understand the scope of the position.
  7. Report: A job analysis report should be developed that discusses the entire process of the job analysis and presents the findings and how the results can be used to build HR projects.

The typical purpose of a job analysis is to develop a job description and job specification that identifies the main tasks/responsibilities of the job and the necessary qualifications that would be required of a job incumbent. By conducting a job analysis and understanding the specific qualifications and KSAs that are necessary for a candidate, HR professionals can create selection criteria and assessment tools that measure whether a candidate is qualified. For example, if a job analysis identified that a high level of cognitive ability is required, then a pre-employment general mental ability test may be a useful selection tool. But remember, it’s still important to review all selection methods for adverse impact, especially if you are using AI/Machine learning tools.

Another benefit to job analysis is that it helps employers identify the appropriate compensation for a job. Job Analysis can often be confused with Job Evaluation, the process of determining the comparable worth of a job by comparing it to other jobs within the organization. These two processes are very different in methodology and outcome, however, the job description and specifications that are created from a job analysis can be greatly beneficial to conducting a job evaluation. Job analysis differentiates job responsibilities across different positions and knowing the responsibilities of a job is incredibly helpful when rating positions on compensable job factors (e.g., managerial responsibility, autonomy, financial responsibility, etc..).

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