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Performing Job Analysis

This toolkit reviews how job analysis can be used to identify the knowledge, skills and expertise required to effectively perform job assignments, establish criteria for selection and promotions, design objectives for training and development programs, develop the standards for the measurement of performance, and assist with the determination of pay classification levels.


Job analysis is the process of studying a job to determine which activities and responsibilities it includes, its relative importance to other jobs, the qualifications necessary for performance of the job and the conditions under which the work is performed. An important concept in job analysis is that the job, not the person doing the job, is assessed, even though human resources (HR) may collect some job analysis data from incumbents.

Job analysis is often confused with job evaluation, but the two activities are quite different. Job evaluation is the process of comparing a job to other jobs within the organization to determine the appropriate pay rate and is not addressed in this toolkit. See Performing Job Evaluations.

Examples of how an organization may use job analysis data:

  • Workforce planning.
  • Performance management.
  • Recruitment and selection.
  • Career and succession planning.
  • Training and development.
  • Compensation administration.
  • Health, safety and security.
  • Employee/labor relations.
  • Risk management.

Information Collection

Job analysis involves collecting information on characteristics that differentiate jobs. The following factors help make distinctions between jobs:

  • Knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) needed.
  • Work activities and behaviors.
  • Interactions with others (internal and external).
  • Performance standards.
  • Financial budgeting and impact.
  • Machines and equipment used.
  • Working conditions.
  • Supervision provided and received.

If an employer has not already done so, grouping jobs with related functions is helpful in the job analysis process by identifying the job family, job duties and tasks of related work. For example:

  • Job family. Grouping of related jobs with broadly similar content.
  • Job. Group of tasks, duties and responsibilities an individual performs that make up his or her total work assignment.
  • Task. A specific statement of what a person does, with similar tasks grouped into a task dimension (i.e., a classification system).

A technical service job family, for example, could be identified as follows:

  • Job family. Technical Service.
  • Job. Technical service representative.
  • Task. Provides technical support to customers by telephone.

Job Analysis Methods  

Determining which tasks employees perform is not easy. The most effective technique when collecting information for a job analysis is to obtain information through direct observation as well as from the most qualified incumbent(s) via questionnaires or interviews. The following describes the most common job analysis methods.

  • Open-ended questionnaire
    Job incumbents and/or managers fill out questionnaires about the KSAs necessary for the job. HR compiles the answers and publishes a composite statement of job requirements. This method produces reasonable job requirements with input from employees and managers and helps analyze many jobs with limited resources. See Job Analysis Questionnaire and Job Analysis Template.
  • Highly structured questionnaire
    These questionnaires allow only specific responses aimed at determining the frequency with which specific tasks are performed, their relative importance and the skills required. The structured questionnaire is helpful to define a job objectively, which also enables analysis with computer models. See O*NET Questionnaires.
  • Interview
    In a face-to-face interview, the interviewer obtains the necessary information from the employee about the KSAs needed to perform the job. The interviewer uses predetermined questions, with additional follow-up questions based on the employee's response. This method works well for professional jobs.
  • Observation
    Employees are directly observed performing job tasks, and observations are translated into the necessary KSAs for the job. Observation provides a realistic view of the job's daily tasks and activities and works best for short-cycle production jobs.
  • Work diary or log
    A work diary or log is a record maintained by the employee and includes the frequency and timing of tasks. The employee keeps logs over a period of days or weeks. HR analyzes the logs, identifies patterns and translates them into duties and responsibilities. This method provides an enormous amount of data, but much of it is difficult to interpret, may not be job-related and is difficult to keep up-to-date. See Job Analysis: Time and Motion Study Form.
  • Behavioral event interview
    Behavioral event interviewing, a competency-based job analysis, differs from the traditional job analysis, which focuses solely on the evaluation of tasks, duties and responsibilities. In behavioral event interviewing:
    • A team of senior managers identifies future performance areas critical to the organization's business and strategic plans.
    • HR assembles panels composed of individuals who are knowledgeable about the organization's jobs (i.e., subject matter experts). These groups may be employees, managers, supervisors, trainers and others.
    • A facilitator interviews panel members to obtain examples of job behaviors and actual occurrences on the jobs.
    • The facilitator develops detailed descriptions of each identified competency, including descriptive phrases for clarity.
    • HR rates the competencies, and panel members identify KSAs required to meet them.
    • HR identifies performance standards for each job. The organization must develop and implement selection, screening, training and compensation instruments, or processes that focus on competencies. 

Use of Job Analysis Data

  • Job descriptions and specifications
    HR uses the job analysis output to develop a job description and job specifications. The job description summarizes and organizes the information for the organization's job-related actions. Generally, the job description and specifications are combined but compartmentalized to enable independent updating as needed. See How To Develop a Job Description and Sample Job Descriptions.
  • Compensation decisions
    In relation to employee pay practices, job analysis has two critical uses: It establishes similarities and differences in job content, and it helps determine the internal equity and relative worth of like jobs. If jobs have equal content, then the pay established for them will likely be equal. If, on the other hand, job content is perceptibly different, then those differences, along with the market rates, will become part of the rationale for paying certain jobs differently.
  • Selection assessments
    Job analysis information can also be used as a basis for selecting or developing employment assessments that measure the most critical tasks or KSAs. Some assessments involve work samples that simulate job tasks and require candidates to demonstrate that they can perform these tasks effectively. HR uses job-oriented or task-based job analysis data as a basis for developing these types of assessments because they focus directly on assessing how well job candidates can perform critical work tasks. Other assessment methods focus on measuring KSAs that are required to perform job tasks effectively, such as various mental abilities, physical abilities or personality traits, depending on the job's requirements. See SHRM Talent Assessment Center.


O*Net, the Occupational Information Network, is a comprehensive database containing information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Employers may use this source to develop job descriptions and define job-specific success factors and for other purposes related to training, recruiting and selection. O*Net also provides extensive links to additional workplace resources. It is a timesaving resource for job analysis and for others writing job descriptions and specifications. See O*Net Resource Center.

Templates and Tools
Job Analysis/Job Description Physical Activities Checklist


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