The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Job Analysis

Have you ever brought on a new employee that did really well in their interview but doesn’t appear to have the skills to do the job day-to-day?

Have you had an employee approach you and say that their current work does not match the job that they interviewed for?

Situations like these can be avoided by deepening your understanding of the role before you begin the process of hiring. This can be accomplished with an evidence-based tool known as job analysis. 

Job analysis is the broad term that involves understanding the duties and responsibilities of a job, and collecting information about the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required for success.

Wondering where to start?  In this blog post, we cover the who, what, when, where, and why of job analysis so you can consider how this tool may fit into and optimize your hiring process.

Who benefits from a job analysis?

Job analyses are important for employees, hiring managers, and recruiters as they help all parties understand what a job entails, and what is necessary for success. For job applicants and new employees, the results of the job analysis provide a realistic description of what they will do on a daily basis. For recruiters and hiring managers, job analyses are helpful for focusing recruitment efforts and guiding the hiring process. For example, results of a job analysis can provide clarity on who meets the requirements of a job and ensure the selected candidate is a good fit for the role. Everyone within the business, including those looking to start a new role with the business, benefit from a greater understanding of the job through job analysis.

What happens in a job analysis?

Although it can sound intimidating, a job analysis is not actually a “scary technical” undertaking. In fact, you are more than likely already implementing steps when you begin the process of making a new hire. In this process, relevant job information is collected from multiple sources, such as interviews, surveys, observation, and journaling, to glean insights into the role. For instance, interviews provide a structured way to ask subject matter experts (i.e., the incumbent or current employees) questions about the job to further your understanding. Surveys can easily ask multiple experts questions about the job at a surface level. Additionally, observation and journaling can provide more detailed insight into the specific tasks being completed. To successfully complete a job analysis, multiple methods should be used together. These methods provide structure and formalize the job analysis process, to ensure that you collect the right information about the job.

When should a job analysis take place?

A job analysis is often completed before a hire is made, since hiring that is based on a comprehensive job analysis is more effective in predicting who will be successful in the role and makes correctly identifying the best candidates easier. However, a job analysis can take place at any time in the employee life cycle. You do not need to be making a hire for a job analysis to be worthwhile. The results of a job analysis can support decisions around wages and compensation, performance management, promotions, and training and development. If your business has employees, now is the perfect time to start getting a more comprehensive understanding of what their job involves. 

Regardless of when you do your initial job analysis, keep in mind that it should not be a one-and-done activity. Jobs change over time, so regular updates to the job analysis ensure that you maintain an accurate and up-to-date representation of the job.

Where does a job analysis happen?

In this virtual age, job analysis does not need to happen in person. There are many ways to collect information about the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics necessary for success, through a job analysis, that do not require face-to-face meetings. You will still need to set focused time aside to participate in a job analysis, but with all the technology we have available to use, a completely remote job analysis is possible.

Why use a job analysis?

Job analyses are worthwhile throughout the employee life cycle. They provide benefits for recruitment, hiring, orientation, and training and development. At a high level, a job analysis makes the decision process of selecting a new hire easier because there are clear decision criteria, supports orientation and onboarding through giving employees an understanding of what success looks like in their new job, and focuses training and development to skills that are necessary for the job. Having a thorough understanding of a job, through job analysis, creates countless opportunities for employees to thrive in their role.

There are also a number of positive outcomes of job analysis for your business. For instance, using a job analysis can result in higher organisational productivity and efficiency. It also leads to higher job satisfaction for employees resulting in less turnover, which can be quite costly for businesses. When you use a job analysis, there are benefits across the board.

We hope that, by answering the who, what, when, where, and why of job analysis, you see the value in using this process within your own workplace. A job analysis helps address common problems at the source, like a hire missing essential skills, or an employee feeling their job does not match the job description.

As a final note, we suggest you take some time to think about how a job analysis can help solve challenges in your own workplace.

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