Job Analysis

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm


We are a young, fast-growing company and adding new people every month. As operations manager,

I’m challenged with coordinating the entire work operation. My job is to make sure things run smoothly. As the scope of our operation expands, I see things getting very complicated unless we do a better job of outlining who’s responsible for what and how it all ties together. I’m looking for some suggestions for implementing a better approach to this part of our operation.


The place to start is by making a commitment to perform a job analysis the next time you create a new position. Also, once you have gotten familiar with what job analysis is and how it is done, you can go back and analyze the positions you currently have.

So, what is a job analysis and how do you do one? A job analysis is a study of a job to describe in specific terms the nature of the work performed (i.e., task analysis) and the requirements for successful performance (i.e., person or worker analysis).

There are several data-gathering approaches that may be used to perform a job analysis. These include: interviews, questionnaires, activity logs, and direct observation.

While it is possible to gather a variety of information, the following categories are fairly common:

  • Principal function and goals
    An overall description of the position and its associated function.
  • Authority and decision-making
    The kinds of decisions position incumbents can and cannot make regarding policies, procedures, etc.
  • Fiscal involvement
    The nature and extent to which incumbents are involved in various financial activities.
  • Reporting relationships and contacts
    The nature and type of contacts a position has with other internal and external positions for information flow, consultation, communication, etc.
  • Managerial responsibilities
    The positions reporting to the position in question (if applicable).
  • Position requirements
    Relevant educational preparation, previous work experience, certifications/ licenses, and physical requirements (if applicable, such as lifting capacity, exposure to weather/climate, etc.).
  • Success factors
    The knowledge, skills, abilities, and behavioral attributes that are necessary for people to successfully fulfill the requirements of the position.

With a sound job analysis in hand, a detailed, accurate job description can be written. This can be the basis for preparing position advertisements and beginning the recruitment and selection process. In today’s Information Age, a number of recruiting sources are possible, including online recruiting, ads in newspapers, referrals from employees, employment agencies and search firms, placement services of professional associations, job fairs, college campuses, and outplacement agencies.

Choosing the right recruiting source or combination of recruiting sources is an important step. In general, you want to establish a method that yields a sufficient number of high quality applicants. Most organizations with which I am familiar use a combination of the approaches outlined above.

Once an applicant pool is generated, the next step is to establish a selection process for determining which individuals best match the position vacancies. It is absolutely essential that the methods you use are legal and defensible. Under the regulations and guidelines established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), all job applicants, regardless of race, religion, gender, or national origin are guaranteed equal opportunities for employment. Further, it is discriminatory to avoid hiring a person because of his or her age, disability, or sexual orientation.

So, the prescription is to use bona fide occupational qualifications gleaned from the job analysis as a basis for developing a reliable, valid talent assessment program. A number of options are possible including:

  • Application blanks and resumes
    Gathering of biographical data regarding educational preparation and work experience.
  • Reference checks
    Obtaining information from people who know the applicant.
  • Interviews
    Structured or unstructured discussions with applicants regarding their qualifications.
  • Employment tests
    Paper-and-pencil or computer-based inventories measuring problem solving, aptitudes, personality, etc.
  • Assessment centers
    Job simulations comprised of exercises that expose applicants to relevant work situations/scenarios.
  • Physical tests
    Physical examinations that evaluate applicants in terms of their physical ability to carry out tasks essential to job performance.
  • Polygraphs
    Lie detector test designed to evaluate the honesty or integrity of applicants.

Regardless of which selection technique or techniques are used, you need to monitor your results and make sure your method is working. Is it reliable (i.e., consistent)? Is it valid (i.e., accurate)? Is it useful (i.e., Do people who perform well in the selection phase of the process also perform well on the job?).

In the final analysis, great gains can be made and great impact can be offered when you get serious about documenting the work that is done at your company and the characteristics that correspond with success. By doing so, you will be able to improve your "hit ratio" in selecting employees who turn out to be keepers.

As a very popular recent book on this topic has suggested, job number one in the area of people practices just may be, "Getting the right people on the bus." What I outline above is a way to do just that.

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