Choosing the Right Method

Job Analysis Methodologies

There are many job analysis systems and many methods by which those systems can be used. At Grahall, we separate the procedures of collecting the information from the actual job analysis system itself. A wide variety of processes can be employed to acquire the needed information, and those processes can be used with many popular job analysis systems. These procedures for collecting information can include interviews, questionnaires, and the like.

Selecting an appropriate job analysis method depends on many criteria. Almost all of the methods have both advantages and disadvantages. So, before executing any method, all advantages and disadvantages should be evaluated in the organization’s context. The data collected through this process can support nearly 20 other organizational needs (these are outlined in Chapter 6 on uses of job analysis information).

The Observation Method

The direct observation system is used to access the knowledge and skillsets required by the job of incumbents based on the standard work-related procedures developed by the organization. This method enables the job analyst to make observations about the incumbents in their day to day job activities. The focal person is responsible for determining the behaviors and actions that are indicators of the duties, responsibilities, skills, and tasks. They directly observe a sample of employees as they execute their jobs.

Interview Group or Individual Method

Here the job analyst interviews the incumbent and collects information about their tasks as well as how they are coping with them. The interview can be conducted as either structured or unstructured. 

Employee Job Diary Method

This method requires the job holders to record in detail their activities periodically, such as hourly or daily or work shift.  At the end of the specified period, the employee records all the activities they had undertaken during that period. The diary method analysis is based on a checklist of the individual’s achievements against their defined requirements. The analyst or HR professional reviews information, finds patterns, and translates them into responsibilities and duties.

Technical Conference or Conference of Experts Method

Under this method, information about the job characteristics is collected from the “experts” who possess extensive knowledge about a job with the help of a conference or meeting. The experts are usually supervisors but can be industrial engineers or even industrial psychologists rather than the job incumbents.  Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) will brainstorm to identify elements of jobs. The job analyst gathers information through these experienced and knowledgeable supervisors or SMEs. The conference method usually includes the following activities a)selection of areas over which questions will be asked of supervisors, b) decisions on the number of questions to be asked and the design of any questions (such as whether open-ended or structured questions), and c) time for completing interviews with supervisors and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

Open-Ended Structured Questionnaire Method

With this method, the organization designs a structured questionnaire with open-ended questions. While many individuals lump this type of questionnaire together with the structured closed-end questionnaire method, they are really quite different. In this method, a questionnaire with a series of questions on job duties, responsibilities and knowledge, decision making, and the other “usual suspects” is prepared and circulated among all jobholders. The questionnaire may also require the immediate supervisor to review and comment on the replies provided by the jobholders.

Structured Closed-End Questionnaire Method

In this method, a questionnaire is prepared to obtain specific detailed job information, and it is circulated among all or a sample of jobholders. The questionnaire asks the job holder to supply several types of information sought in job analysis. Single questionnaires are rarely effective for all types of jobs within an organization, but a limited number of questionnaires can be used to cover all types of positions. Most of these questionnaires have a specific format that first identifies the job, then requests information about principal tasks, and then has questions to obtain any mental skill and physical requirements of the position. After completion, the questionnaire is usually reviewed by supervisors.

Job Performance Method

In this method, the job analyst performs the job in question and thus receives first-hand experience of the job’s factors, including physical hazards, physical demands, emotional pressure, and mental requirements. This methodology is limited to positions that have low customer impact and or are not highly technical. It is not effective for positions with a few unique roles not experienced for many months at a time since it would be unlikely that the analyst would experience those roles through job performance. Through performing the job, the analyst needs to obtain an understanding of a) the entire job cycle, b) time required to complete all or part of the activity, c) the hazards and difficulties faced in performing the job, d) the working environment, machines, tools used, supervision needed, e) the skill, ability, and knowledge required to complete the job.

Checklist and Rating Scales Method

The checklist is a job analysis method that creates an inventory of job elements. An analyst can obtain information about the reason for that particular position, the working conditions, decision-making processes, key responsibility areas, relationships, knowledge, organizations, skills, and experience. The checklist and rating scales are the most common indicators used to evaluate performance based on an individual’s score on specific factors.

Examining Manuals/Reference Materials Method

Manuals/reference materials that include various instructions, forms, procedures, and job descriptions are essential to the job analyst. Businesses need to evaluate their standard operating manuals and procedures to identify specific gaps when using this method.

Combination of Methods

Generally, an analyst covering a significant portion of an organization does not use one job analysis method for gathering information. Instead, he or she will use a combination of methods. For instance, when analyzing clerical positions, the analyst might use a questionnaire and support that with interviews and limited observation. On the other hand, for production jobs, the analyst might use interviews and significant observation to gather data. For professional positions, the use of structured questionnaires is common.  And for executive and management positions, open-ended questionnaires might be best. Direct observation may work well for warehouse positions.  Task inventories or knowledge inventories work for programming and systems positions. The right combination of methods can ensure high accuracy at minimum costs.

Criteria for Deciding on the Methods to Gather Data

To determine what method or combination of methods are right for your organization, start with a careful review of the advantages and challenges for each method which is covered in detail in both the Grahall Research Report and or Book on Job Analysis.  

Understand that the job analysis method and the job analysis system need to be matched and will determine the overall success or failure of the job analysis effort for the organization. In addition to the matching of system and method, other criteria that will impact the decision about the data/information gathering method are the size of the organization and your desired “return on the information.”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,