Job analysis is the process of determining the nature or content of a job by collecting and organizing information relevant to the job. A complete job analysis contains information relating to the following five factors, plus any others deemed appropriate to fully describe the nature of the job:
(1) work products?what the job seeks to accomplish;
(2) necessary worker activities or behaviors required by the job;
(3) equipment used;
(4) factors in the work environment; and
(5) personal characteristics required to do the job, such as typing speed, physical strength, or interest in working with children.
The personal requirements of a job are referred to as job specifications. Job specifications are the human requirements deemed necessary for minimally acceptable performance on the job. Job specifications can include skills, abilities, education level, experience, interests, personality traits, or other physical characteristics.
METHODS OF JOB ANALYSIS
Job analysis methods can be categorized into four basic types: (1) observation methods; (2) interview techniques; (3) questionnaires, including job inventories or checklists. This section describes and discusses these methods.
Observation of work activities and worker behaviors is a method of job analysis which can be used independently or in combination with other methods of job analysis. Three methods of job analysis based on observation are: (1) direct observation; (2) work methods analysis, including time and motion study and micro-motion analysis; and (3) the critical incident technique. Though they employ the same method, these methods differ in terms of who does the observing, what is observed, and how it is observed.
Using direct observation, a person conducting the analysis simply observes employees in the performance of their duties, recording observations as they are made. The observer either takes general notes or works from a form which has structured categories for comment. Everything is observed: what the worker accomplishes, what equipment is used, what the work environment is like, and any other factors relevant to the job.
Direct observation methods have certain natural limitations for job analysis purposes. First, they cannot capture the mental aspects of jobs, such as decision making or planning, since mental processes are not observable. Second, observation methods can provide little information relating to personal requirements for various jobs because this kind of information is also not readily observable. Thus, observation methods provide little information on which to base job specifications.
Work methods analysis.
A sophisticated observation method, work methods analysis is used to describe manual and repetitive production jobs, such as factory or assembly-line jobs. These methods are used by industrial engineers to determine standard rates of production which are used to set pay rates. Two types of work methods analysis are time and motion study and micro-motion analysis. In time and motion studies, an industrial engineer observes and records each activity of a worker, using a stopwatch to note the time it takes to perform separate elements of the job. Micro-motion analysis uses a movie camera to record worker activities. Films are analyzed to discover acceptable ways of accomplishing tasks and to set standards relating to how long certain tasks should take. Such data are especially useful for developing training programs and setting pay rates.
Critical incident technique.
The critical incident technique involves observation and recording of examples of particularly effective or ineffective behaviors. Behaviors are judged to be "effective" or "ineffective" in terms of results produced by the behavior.
The following information should be recorded for each "critical incident" of behavior: (1) what led up to the incident and the situation in which it occurred; (2) exactly what the employee did that was particularly effective or ineffective; (3) the perceived consequences or results of the behavior; and (4) a judgment as to the degree of control an employee had over the results his or her behavior produced (to what degree should the employee be held responsible for what resulted?).
The critical incident method differs from direct observation and work methods analysis in that observations of behavior are not recorded as the behavior occurs, but only after the behavior has been judged to be either particularly effective or ineffective in terms of results produced. This means that a person using the critical incident method must describe a behavior in retrospect, or after the fact, rather than as the activity unfolds. Accurate recording of past observations is more difficult than recording the behaviors as they occur.
Interview techniques involve discussions between job analysts (or other interviewers) and job occupants or experts. Interviews held on a one-to-one basis are called individual interviews. Interviews with groups of two or more job occupants are called group interviews. Job analysis data from individual and group interviews with employees are often supplemented by information from supervisors of employees whose jobs are analyzed. Job analysis interviews can also be held with a small panel of experts, such as supervisors or long-time employees who are very familiar with the job. Interviews of this type are called technical conferences. The end product of a technical conference is a job description that reflects a consensus of the experts' thinking.
Interviews can be unstructured, with questions and areas of discussion unspecified, or they can be more highly structured, spelling out each point for discussion. Using a structured format increases the likelihood that all aspects of a job will be covered in an interview. Further, using a more structured format enables collection of comparable data from all persons interviewed, making information classification easier.
Observation and interview techniques of job analysis are often used in combination or in developing more sophisticated methods of job analysis.
Questionnaires can be filled out by employees on an individual basis or by job analysts for a group of employees. Questionnaires vary in the degree to which they are structured. Relatively unstructured questionnaires ask questions that are open-ended, or seek an unspecified answer. Examples of open-ended questionnaire items are as follows:
1. Describe the duties of your job.
2. Describe your daily routine.
3. What skills do you feel are essential to the performance of your duties?