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What Is Job Analysis?

Determining the fundamental requirements of the jobs at your business can help you hire the right people, establish competitive pay ranges, measure employee performance and make sure that your business is running as efficiently as possible. By definition, job analysis is the process of describing a position in its entirely from job duties and compensation to working environment.

The job analysis process is an important pre-employment step, but it’s critical to routinely analyze roles that are already filled at your company. Doing so ensures that you’re offering the right professional development opportunities and setting employees up for success.

In this article, you’ll learn what job analysis is, why it’s important for your business and a few common job analysis methods to implement in your workplace.

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The definition of job analysis

What is job analysis? The meaning of job analysis is the practice of gathering and analyzing details about a particular job, such as responsibilities, day-to-day duties, hard and soft skills, qualifications, education, expected outcomes, interaction, performance standards, work conditions, physical abilities and supervision. Job analysis is commonly used to develop job descriptions, but the data has other uses too.

Why is job analysis important?

Employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of job analysis. Conducting a job analysis provides an overview of the most important requirements of a role to ensure that you’re making the right hiring decisions. Failing to conduct an in-depth analysis can lead to employee discontent, high turnover rates and low levels of employee engagement. An effective job analysis ensures that employees understand the expectations of their position, are appropriately trained and receive fair compensation.

A job analysis is a great tool to help you make a variety of personnel decisions and understand the context of a role within an organization. Businesses often use job analysis for:

When you collect and analyze the right data during a job analysis, you can determine important job elements like:

  • Job title
  • Job levels (e.g. assistant, associate, specialist or senior associate)
  • Position summary
  • Specific job duties
  • Work conditions
  • Potential workplace hazards
  • Necessary machinery, equipment and tools
  • How the role fits in with your budget

Common methods of job analysis

There are several different ways to perform a job analysis. The job analysis method you choose depends on your objective outcomes, your industry, the work environment and the specifics of the position. Here are six of the most common job analysis methods:

Direct observation

Direct observation requires you to observe an employee in the position while they perform their job duties. Take detailed notes on what the employee does, the materials they use, necessary skills and any other job-related requirements.

The direct observation method typically requires the analyst to be familiar with the job, so they know what to look for and how to describe it. A department manager or senior employee is best suited to perform this method of job analysis.

Work method analysis

Consider using the work method job analysis for repetitive labor jobs, like assembly line positions. This job analysis includes time and motion studies that determine how long it takes to complete an action and how many actions the employee can complete during their shift. Companies often use this information to determine how many workers they need to meet production goals.

Critical incident technique

The critical incident job analysis technique determines what separates good work performance from poor performance. Using this method, analysts interview employees about critical incidents they’ve experienced on the job to determine what specific skills were required to reach a positive outcome.


With this job analysis method, you interview employees and their supervisors about the specifics of the employee’s job. Interviewers ask a variety of questions to determine job duties and necessary skills.

Questions might include:

  • Describe the job in your own words.
  • What is your job’s purpose?
  • Describe your working conditions.
  • What do you feel is necessary in terms of education or qualifications?
  • What special tools, equipment or machines do you use?
  • What is the level of accountability in your role?
  • How long do you typically spend on X task?


The questionnaire job analysis method requires employees to answer a list of questions related to their job. Often, these questionnaires are very detailed to glean as much information as possible. Some existing questionnaires can help you conduct a job analysis.

  • Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ): Developed at Purdue University in 1972,PAQ is used to define the duties and responsibilities of a given position. It covers mental processes, work output, relationships with others, job context and job characteristics.
  • Functional Job Analysis (FJA): The FJA was created by United States Department of Labor to perform qualitative analyses. It describes what an employee does, broken down into functions like data, worker instructions, reasoning, people, math and language.
  • Multipurpose Occupational Systems Analysis Inventory – Close-Ended: MOSAIC is a survey-based job analysis tool that collects information from employees to determine the core competencies of a role (e.g. knowledge, skills, abilities).
  • Common Metric Questionnaire (CMQ): The CMQ is a 62-question survey that covers five core sections: background, contacts, physical and mechanical activities, decision-making and work setting.

Internal and external research

Use a variety of sources to gather information on a particular job position. Start by looking at your existing job postings, performance development plans and employee training materials. You can also perform external research by looking at job description samples or job postings online for the role you’re analyzing to see what other companies are looking for in candidates.

How to perform a job analysis

Follow these steps to perform an effective job analysis:

1. Determine the goal

Start by establishing the goal of your job analysis. For example, your goal might be to determine appropriate compensation, update a job description or recruit potential employees for an open role.

2. Consider which jobs you want to analyze

Do you want to analyze an entire department, just a few jobs or a single position? Deciding what jobs you want to analyze can help you select the right method for your analysis.

3. Select the right job analysis method

Determine which job analysis method will produce the most useful data for your goals. For example, the interview method may not be the right choice if you’re hiring for a completely new role at your company. In this case, external research might be a good choice. If you want to revise a job description, direct observation could be a cost-effective choice. Want to figure out how to classify a certain position? A questionnaire could help you determine whether a role should be exempt or nonexempt.

4. Create a timeline

Establish a timeline for notifying employees about the analysis, conducting the analysis, reviewing the data and implementing any changes.

5. Prepare your materials

Prepare any necessary materials for the job analysis, like securing a meeting room, purchasing a questionnaire or coming up with interview questions.

6. Complete the analysis

Perform the job analysis using best practices for the method you selected. If possible, get input from employees, supervisors and senior managers to get a more well-rounded and in-depth look at the job you’re analyzing.

7. Review your job analysis results

Assess the data to see what the job entails, what skills and qualifications are necessary to perform it well and any other relevant information needed to meet your goals.

8. Use the data

Finally, use the results of your job analysis to establish an updated job description, appropriate compensation, employee development plan or other documents or processes.

Job analysis FAQs

How can job analysis improve employee effectiveness?

Job analysis is a great tool for improving an employee’s performance. After you analyze the data, you can see where the employee excels and where they need improvement. Company leadership can use this information to create a performance improvement plan with employees who are struggling to meet demands.

Who conducts job analysis?

Several different people can conduct a job analysis. If the company wants an in-house employee to manage job analysis, they’ll often enlist the help of an HR representative. Some companies, particularly those using direct observation, might enlist department supervisors. Other companies hire firms dedicated to job analysis if they’re hoping to analyze many employees quickly.

When should we complete a job analysis?

There’s no specific time that a company needs to complete job analysis. Some companies might run an analysis once a year to adjust job titles, descriptions, compensation or other elements. Others might incorporate a job analysis as part of the performance review process or prior to creating a job posting.

What’s the difference between job analysis and job evaluation?

Job analysis and job evaluation are important functions of HR management, but they are two distinct processes. Job analysis involves gathering facts and details about a specific job to help you write job descriptions, hire the right people and train your teams. Job evaluation helps you compare one role to other positions at your company to determine which jobs are most important. Job evaluation is commonly used to identify appropriate salaries and remove wage disparities.

What are the three components of job analysis?

There are three primary types of job analysis data that employers can use to inform their hiring decisions. These are work activities, worker attributes and work context. Work activities and worker attributes are typically more important in relation to the company’s culture. However, work context is important when it is subject to change.

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