Job Analysis Methods

Methods Used to Collect Job Analysis Data and Analyze It

Do managers and job analyst have to start from scratch when it comes to designing questionnaires to gather job data and analyzing it? No, not necessarily so, even if a position is a new one.

The systematic and quantitative definition of job content that job analysis provides is the foundation of many HRM practices. Specifically, the job analysis serves to justify job descriptions and other HRM selection procedures. Several different job analysis approaches are used to gather data, each with specific advantages and disadvantages. Four of the more popular methods are:

  • the Position Analysis system,
  • the critical incident method,
  • a task inventory analysis, and
  • a competency-based job analysis.

We’ll spend the remainder of this entry discussing each.

The Position Analysis Questionnaire System

position analysis questionnaire (PAQ) is a questionnaire covering 194 different tasks that, by means of a five-point scale, seeks to determine the degree to which different tasks are involved in performing a particular job.

The position analysis questionnaire (PAQ) is a quantifiable data collection method covering 194 different worker-oriented tasks. Using a five-point scale, the PAQ seeks to determine the degree, if any, to which the different tasks, or job elements, are involved in performing a particular job.

The person conducting an analysis with this questionnaire would rate each of the elements using the five-point scale shown in the upper right-hand corner of the sample page. The results obtained with the PAQ are quantitative and can be subjected to statistical analysis. The PAQ also permits dimensions of behavior to be compared across a number of jobs and permits jobs to be grouped on the basis of common characteristics.

The Critical Incident Method

Critical incident method is a job analysis method by which important job tasks are identified for job success. The objective of the critical incident method is to identify critical job tasks.

Critical job tasks are those important duties and job responsibilities performed by the jobholder that lead to job success. Information about critical job tasks can be collected through interviews with employees or managers or through self-report statements written by employees.

Suppose, for example, that the job analyst is studying the job of reference librarian. The interviewer will ask the employee to describe the job on the basis of what is done, how the job is performed, and what tools and equipment are used. The reference librarian may describe the job as follows:

  • I assist patrons by answering their questions related to finding books, periodicals, or other library materials. I also give them directions to help them find materials within the building. To perform my job I may have to look up materials myself or refer patrons to someone who can directly assist them. Some individuals may need training in how to use reference materials or special library facilities. I also give library tours to new patrons. I use computers and a variety of reference books to carry out my job.

After the job data are collected, the analyst then writes separate task statements that represent important job activities. For the reference librarian one task statement might be: “Listens to patrons and answers their questions related to locating library materials.”

Typically, the job analyst writes five to ten important task statements for each job under study. The final product is written task statements that are clear, complete, and easily understood by those unfamiliar with the job. The critical incident method is an important job analysis method because it teaches the analyst to focus on employee behaviors critical to job success.

Task Inventory Analysis

Task inventory analysis is an organization-specific list of tasks and their descriptions used as a basis to identify components of jobs. The task inventory analysis method can be considered a job-oriented type of job analysis Opens in new window.

The technique was pioneered by the U.S. Air Force to analyze jobs held by Air Force specialists. Unlike the PAQ, which uses a standardized form to analyze jobs in different organizations, a task inventory questionnaire can be tailor-made to a specific organization.

The technique can be developed by identifying—with the help of employees and managers—a list of tasks and their descriptions that are components of different jobs. The goal is to produce a comprehensive list of tasks statements that are applicable to all jobs. Tasks statements then are listed on a task inventory survey form to be completed by the person analyzing the job under review.

A task statement might be: “Inventories current supplies to maintain stock levels.” The job analysis would also note the importance and frequency of use of the task to the successful completion of the job.

Competency-Based Analysis

The traditional job analysis approaches we have addressed so far assumes a static job environment where jobs remain relatively stable apart from incumbents who might hold these jobs. Here, jobs can be meaningfully defined in terms of tasks, duties, processes, and skills necessary for job success.

This assumption, unfortunately, discounts technological advances that are often so accelerated that jobs, as they are defined today, may be obsolete tomorrow. The following statement by two HR professionals highlights this concern: “Typically, job analysis looks at how a job is currently done. But the ever-changing business market makes it difficult to keep a job analysis up-to-date. Also, companies are asking employees to do more, so there is a question of whether ‘jobs’ as we know them are obsolete.”

Furthermore, the need to respond to global change can alter the nature of jobs and the requirement for individuals needed to successfully perform them. Therefore, in a dynamic environment where job demands rapidly change, obsolete job analysis information simply hinders an organization’s ability to adapt to change.

When organizations operate in a fast-moving environment, managers may adopt a competency-based approach to job analysis. This job analysis method relies on building job profiles that look at the responsibilities and activities of jobs and the worker competencies necessary to accomplish them. The objective is to identify “key” competencies for organizational success.

Competencies can be identified through focus groups, surveys, or interviews and might include such things as interpersonal communication skills, decision-making ability, conflict resolution skills, adaptability, or self-motivation. An organization’s job descriptions, recruitment requirements, and performance evaluation system will reflect the competencies needed by employees.