What is Job Analysis, Why & How to Conduct One

Imagine you’re hiring for an open position. 

  • How do you know what to look for in potential candidates if you are not sure what the exact tasks they’ll be required to do daily are? 
  • How can candidates fully understand what is required of them – the physical, mental, cognitive, behavioral, and even psychological components of the job they’re applying for? 
  • How will you know if there are existing skill gaps in current teams if you don’t know what skills are required to fulfill each task in the role? 
  • What can you use as a benchmark to help you make a fair promotion or salary decision for a job?

I’ve got the magic answer you’ve been looking for – job analysis

But what is job analysis, how does it help you and how do you conduct one?

Let’s dive in!

What is job analysis?

Job analysis is the process of identifying the tasks, skills, responsibilities, objectives, and work environment for a specific job position.

Most of the time job analysis is used to create the perfect job description with the hopes of attracting, selecting, and eventually hiring the best possible candidate.

However, the workplace culture of the current world created a shift in the way job analysis is perceived. Today, job analysis ranges from personal and company-related goals, mapping required skills and competencies, onboarding and offboarding expectations, performance reviews, and basically anything else that would be necessary for an employee to excel. 

Job analysis is an important step in ensuring that the right candidate is selected. Job analysis helps the employer in recruitment and selection, performance management, choosing compensation and benefits, etc. It helps the employees have a clear picture of what is actually required of them. 

Who should conduct the job analysis?

Now that you know what job analysis is, you might be left wondering whose role is it to conduct one? Is it the recruiter? The talent acquisition manager? Or is it the hiring manager?

In most cases, conducting job analysis is the responsibility of Human Resources. However, there are situations where there is an external specialist to carry out the job analysis.

If you want your HR team to conduct the job analysis, do take into consideration that this is not their only responsibility. Thus, by dropping another responsibility on their shoulders on top of their typical workload, you risk that they do not give their full attention to either their usual working duties or to conducting the job analysis. Which in the end results in an overall lack of quality when it comes to both matters at hand. 

Once you identify the need to conduct multiple job analyses, I would suggest seriously considering hiring a consultant that specializes in these analyses. Having an expert ultimately provides you with a more desirable outcome.

What are the 4 components of job analysis?

Job title

This component is as straightforward as it gets – a job title is the official name of the position. For example, an  “Account Executive” or “Digital Marketing Manager”. It should be very clearly stated at the very beginning of job analysis to precisely communicate which job position is advertised for.

While this might seem like the most simple component of job analysis, the person conducting it must be entirely correct and specific here, especially if the position is closely related to a few other positions too. Such as “Content marketer” and “ Digital marketer”.

Job description

The job description is the very first impression the candidate gets about your company. It is the key piece in every company’s hiring strategy and is especially valuable to communicate your employer brand. 

The job description should clearly describe the activities, duties, working conditions, and responsibilities of the job.

Job specification

Whereas, a job specification summarises the personal qualities, traits, skills, and background required for actually getting the job done. It is important for two reasons:

  1. For certain jobs, qualifications are required by law (think of airline pilots, medical doctors, and lawyers – they all need to be licensed).
  2. Secondly, job specification might involve establishing certain standards or criteria that are deemed necessary for the successful performance of an employee.

Job evaluation

The information gathered during job analysis can also be used as input for the organization’s job evaluation system which, long story short, determines the worth of a particular job to the organization.

This information can primarily be used to determine the pay for the job. The more difficult or complex the jobs – the higher the pay and vice versa.

Methods of conducting job analysis

Interviews

By interviews, I don’t mean conducting interviews with candidates as part of the job analysis. In contrast – to carry out proper job analysis, if you choose interviews as your main method of data collection – they should be conducted with existing employees. Employees who are part of the team that you’re planning to recruit for.

This would ideally include managers and individuals who will work closely together with the new hire.

When interviewing make sure that you:

  • Maintain a structured interview process every interviewer adheres to (here’s how);
  • Ask all interviewees the same set of questions (also in the same order);
  • Precisely record all the answers you get to be able to equally compare and evaluate them against one another.

Direct Observations

Observations will allow you to fill in gaps that might have been left blank throughout the interview process. Observation implies exactly what you would expect it to – someone observing the team on an average day to determine the natural way tasks and responsibilities are carried out.

Questionnaires/surveys

Now another method of conducting job analysis is by using questionnaires or surveys. They can prove to be quite useful as they can easily be distributed throughout the entire company and allow you to gather thorough feedback.

Not only is this time-efficient and easy, but also allows for participants to provide their insights and answers anonymously facilitating the likelihood of more honest answers.

How to conduct job analysis: Process of Job Analysis

Identify the purpose of conducting job analysis

The start of any action taken within the hiring setting is defining its purpose. What is the reason you want to conduct an analysis? Identifying a clear purpose will help you set up proper design choices, ranging from the budget to allocate, who will lead the analysis, and so on.

In general, there are three most common purposes for conducting job analysis:

  1. To create a top-notch job description
  2. Have an analysis to be able to develop workforce training initiatives
  3. To make better hiring decisions (workforce planning)

Select your method

Before diving into the abyss of actually conducting job analysis, you must carefully consider which method is best suited for the purpose you previously identified. Is it interviews? Observations? Questionnaires or surveys? Or perhaps you want to use cognitive ability tests?

Make sure you pick the method that fits best with your goals.

Gathering data

Gathering data to be used for the job analysis is without a doubt the most time consuming and overall lengthy part of the process.  

Throughout the data gathering process, you should be looking into:

  • Gather overall information about the position;
  • Job context;
  • Personal requirements;
  • Expected work performance;
  • Industry standards of the job position;
  • Examining which skills, cognitive and behavioral traits are required to do a job;
  • Identifying a list of tasks specific to a job, time spent on these tasks, and the importance or difficulty of the task.

Closely revise job descriptions and specifications

Based on the data gathered and the analysis conducted, you can now work on developing a job description and specifications. The job description is a written statement that should clearly describe the activities and responsibilities of the job.

P.S. We’ve prepared a 5 step guide for you on how to write better job descriptions!

Whereas, a job specification summarises the personal qualities, traits, skills, and background required for actually getting the job done. 

Review and verify

Review and verify both the job description and specifications with someone who is currently in the said job role and their supervisor. This way you will be able to determine whether what you’ve come up with is factually accurate and complete.

Continue to evolve the job

Without a doubt everything in life is subject to constant change, so make sure to revisit the job description and specifications every once in a while to make sure they are optimized and up to date.

9 reasons why you should be conducting job analysis

In order to hire a good person for the job
Finding the right candidate for a job is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of recruiting. However, in order to hire the right person - it is absolutely essential to know the requirements of the job, as well as the qualities of the person who is meant to be doing the job. 

After all - if you do not know that, how will you know what to look for in candidates?

And that’s precisely where job analysis can come to the rescue by offering in-depth insights into what exactly makes someone successful in a specific job.
To increase employee job satisfaction
Job analysis helps in designing, redesigning, enriching, evaluating, and also cutting back and adding the extra responsibilities when it comes to a particular job. This is tremendously enhancing employee satisfaction while increasing human output.

Employees are more efficient and happier at work when the daily duties are established. I mean we all perform better if our responsibilities and duties are set out more clearly, right? ????

To identify skill & job behaviour gaps
Companies that regularly conduct job analysis possess better knowledge of their strengths and limitations. Especially when it comes to skills and behaviours, allowing these companies to take timely corrective action and improve any deficiencies in their skills and job behaviour (Clifford, 1994). On top of that, this can serve as an important indicator of areas where further development or training is absolutely necessary.
To optimise performance reviews
Another reason why you should seriously consider conducting job analysis is the fact that it helps when it comes to managers evaluating the performance of employees.

How does it help? By allowing for a comparison between the desired output with the actual output of the employees. This helps to determine whether the performance of an employee has been efficient or not.

Additionally, it helps to determine whether the teams meet the set up goals and expected outcomes, allowing you to assess whether they are set up realistically and are attainable, or whether there is a need for redesign.
To match job-specifications with employee specifications while selecting an employee
Matching job-specifications with those of the candidates can be quite nerve-wracking. 

However, job analysis can help you place employees in job roles that are best suited for them, based on their abilities and interests.

In the end - it’s a win-win for everyone involved:
The employee is doing what they are good at & what makes them happy;
You can design structures that help them further succeed and improve.

To improve employee onboarding AND offboarding experience
During onboarding interviews especially, job analysis eventually becomes part of the KPI meeting as it is the most determinant of setting up goals for each employee.

According to recent findings, 48% of employees have left a role because it simply wasn't what they expected it to be. When/If this is the case, during the offboarding you can assess what should have been done differently and moreover evaluate whether the expectations were perhaps too unattainable.
Improved career path planning
If the goals, expectations, requirements and so on are set up and based on a properly conducted job analysis - it will also become way easier to plan out the long-term career path of each employee.

By being able to focus on improving their strengths and working on turning their weaknesses into strengths as well. This way you’ll be able to help every individual in your company, making the company flourish collectively.. And trust me - they will be grateful to you forever!
To help make fair promotion and salary decisions
Yes, we’re not done yet with the list of reasons why job analysis should be your best friend. On top of all the previously mentioned advantages, job analysis helps you to make more informed & fair promotion and salary decisions.

By providing you with clear insights into the tasks, expectations and so on for each job role.You can only make an unbiased and indisputable determination of allowances and perks related to a specific job after conducting a thorough job analysis.
To improve overall organisational performance
According to a study, employee job analysis can be a powerful tool to enhance organisational performance.

In order to hire a good person for the job

Finding the right candidate for a job is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of recruiting. However, in order to hire the right person – it is absolutely essential to know the requirements of the job, as well as the qualities of the person who is meant to be doing the job. 

After all – if you do not know that, how will you know what to look for in candidates?

And that’s precisely where job analysis can come to the rescue by offering in-depth insights into what exactly makes someone successful in a specific job.

To increase employee job satisfaction

Job analysis helps in designing, redesigning, enriching, evaluating, and also cutting back and adding the extra responsibilities when it comes to a particular job. This is tremendously enhancing employee satisfaction while increasing human output.

Employees are more efficient and happier at work when their daily duties are established. I mean we all perform better if our responsibilities and duties are set out more clearly, right? ????

To identify skill & job behavior gaps

Companies that regularly conduct job analyses possess a better knowledge of their strengths and limitations. Especially when it comes to skills and behaviors, allowing these companies to take timely corrective action and improve any deficiencies in their skills and job behavior (Clifford, 1994). On top of that, this can serve as an important indicator of areas where further development or training is absolutely necessary.

To optimize performance reviews

Another reason why you should seriously consider conducting job analysis is the fact that it helps when it comes to managers evaluating the performance of employees.

How does it help? By allowing for a comparison between the desired output with the actual output of the employees. This helps to determine whether the performance of an employee has been efficient or not.

Additionally, it helps to determine whether the teams meet the setup goals and expected outcomes, allowing you to assess whether they are set up realistically and are attainable, or whether there is a need for redesign.

To match job-specifications with employee specifications while selecting an employee

Matching job specifications with those of the candidates can be quite nerve-wracking. 

However, job analysis can help you place employees in job roles that are best suited for them, based on their abilities and interests.

In the end – it’s a win-win for everyone involved:

  • The employee is doing what they are good at & what makes them happy;
  • You can design structures that help them further succeed and improve.

To improve employee onboarding AND offboarding experience

During onboarding interviews especially, job analysis eventually becomes part of the KPI meeting as it is the most determinant of setting up goals for each employee.

According to recent findings, 48% of employees have left a role because it simply wasn’t what they expected it to be. When/If this is the case, during the offboarding you can assess what should have been done differently and moreover evaluate whether the expectations were perhaps too unattainable.

Improved career path planning

If the goals, expectations, requirements, and so on are set up and based on a properly conducted job analysis – it will also become way easier to plan out the long-term career path of each employee.

By being able to focus on improving their strengths and working on turning their weaknesses into strengths as well. This way you’ll be able to help every individual in your company, making the company flourish collectively.. And trust me – they will be grateful to you forever!

To help make fair promotion and salary decisions

Yes, we’re not done yet with the list of reasons why job analysis should be your best friend. On top of all the previously mentioned advantages, job analysis helps you to make more informed & fair promotion and salary decisions.

By providing you with clear insights into the tasks, expectations, and so on for each job role. You can only make an unbiased and indisputable determination of allowances and perks related to a specific job after conducting a thorough job analysis.

To improve overall organizational performance

According to a study, employee job analysis can be a powerful tool to enhance organizational performance

Disadvantages of job analysis

Here are 5 downsides that you will inevitably encounter when conducting job analysis! 
Time consuming
Perhaps the biggest downside of conducting job analysis is the fact that often it’s extremely tiresome and lengthy (of course, if you want it to be done properly - half arsing is of course an option too, but doubt that will lead to any good results - if it does - let me know ????).

It is a big limitation especially when jobs change frequently.
Too much effort
On top of being time consuming and lengthy, job analysis is a process that requires a lot of human input and constant effort. Why? Because every single job out there means different information and as there is no one set in stone pattern - customised information must be collected for each job within each company.

Furthermore, the various methods of analysis require true dedication and focus to be completed properly. 

Long story short - the same method of job analysis, the same questions, evaluation - will simply not suffice for the variety of jobs out there. 
Lack of skills (when it comes to the people conducting job analysis)
Remember at the beginning of the blog I mentioned that once you identify the need to conduct multiple job analyses, you consider hiring a consultant that specialises in this and ultimately provides you with a much better desired outcome?

Well, if the person doing the job analysis is not aware of how to properly carry out job analysis or lacks the required skills to conduct the analysis, it is indeed a waste of time.

Without a person who isn’t familiar with the goals and principles of it, it is impossible to conduct an authentic job analysis.
Job analysis is heavily impacted by unconscious biases
Even though job analysis allows us to deeply and thoroughly understand the job requirements (sidenote: if it’s done properly), in most cases it is still heavily impacted and distorted by our very own unconscious biases. 

Long story short - by the personal likes and dislikes of the person conducting the analysis.

Let me give you an example of this. If the manager likes one worker more than the other the personal opinions will influence the job analysis and it will not be a genuine analysis.

Sadly, there is no way to fully eliminate these unconscious biases and prejudices from impacting job analysis as they are primarily done by human beings (which are inherently biased). Thus, never being fully free from this leading to marginal difficulties in collecting data that is actually genuine and can help hire the best people for the job role.
General standards cannot be set for mental abilities
Mental abilities such as intellect, emotional characteristics, knowledge, aptitude, psychic and endurance are intangible things that can not be observed or measured directly. 

People act differently in different situations. 

As a result, general standards can not be set for mental abilities.

Like with most things in life – there are advantages and disadvantages. The same goes for conducting job analysis. 

Here are 5 downsides that you will inevitably encounter when conducting job analysis! 

Time-consuming

Perhaps the biggest downside of conducting job analysis is the fact that often it’s extremely tiresome and lengthy (of course, if you want it to be done properly – half arsing is of course an option too, but doubt that will lead to any good results – if it does – let me know 😉 ).

It is a big limitation especially when jobs change frequently.

Too much effort

On top of being time-consuming and lengthy, job analysis is a process that requires a lot of human input and constant effort. Why? Because every single job out there means different information and as there is no one set in the stone pattern – customized information must be collected for each job within each company.

Furthermore, the various methods of analysis require true dedication and focus to be completed properly. 

Long story short – the same method of job analysis, the same questions, evaluation – will simply not suffice for the variety of jobs out there. 

Lack of skills (when it comes to the people conducting job analysis)

Remember at the beginning of the blog I mentioned that once you identify the need to conduct multiple job analyses, you consider hiring a consultant that specializes in this and ultimately provides you with a much better-desired outcome?

Well, if the person doing the job analysis is not aware of how to properly carry out job analysis or lacks the required skills to conduct the analysis, it is indeed a waste of time.

Without a person who isn’t familiar with its goals and principles of it, it is impossible to conduct an authentic job analysis.

Job analysis is heavily impacted by unconscious biases

Even though job analysis allows us to deeply and thoroughly understand the job requirements (sidenote: if it’s done properly), in most cases it is still heavily impacted and distorted by our very own unconscious biases

Long story short – by the personal likes and dislikes of the person conducting the analysis.

Let me give you an example of this. If the manager likes one worker more than the other the personal opinions will influence the job analysis and it will not be a genuine analysis.

Sadly, there is no way to fully eliminate these unconscious biases and prejudices from impacting job analysis as they are primarily done by human beings (who are inherently biased). Thus, never being fully free from this leads to marginal difficulties in collecting data that is actually genuine and can help hire the best people for the job role.

General standards cannot be set for mental abilities

Mental abilities such as intellect, emotional characteristics, knowledge, aptitude, and endurance are intangible things that can not be observed or measured directly. 

People act differently in different situations. 

As a result, general standards can not be set for mental abilities.

However, there is a solution after all…

Solution: Game-based psychometric assessments

“ Conducting job analysis without any science to back you up is like building a house without a foundation.

Danielle Chan, People & Culture Manager @ Equalture

Here at Equalture, we develop neuroscientific games to help companies make better hiring decisions. 

Our games, focused on measuring cognitive abilities and personality traits, not only assess your candidates but also your current team. 

Why are games better than a human conducted job analysis? There are four main reasons:

  1. They provide you with data-backed and objective insights that’ll allow you to start hiring for potential.
  2. Gamified cognitive ability tests reveal both conscious and unconscious behavior.
  3. No room for social desirability bias since candidates often don’t know which traits are measured per game and the only thing they can do is play.
  4. Gamified cognitive ability tests are more immersive. They make a candidate forget that they are assessed, thus reducing feelings of anxiety.

By assessing the current team first, you will get a clear overview of the current representation of your team – so for example, if your team consists of highly flexible people only, or not. This will help you determine what to look for in your next hire. 

There you have it – the closest you’ll get to having a crystal ball that will allow you to look into the future and predict how successful someone will be in your team!

Cheers, Anete.

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