The importance of job analysis
When building a high performing hiring process, one of the first tasks is to define the job. Sometimes this is referred to as a job analysis.
If it isn't already, conducting a job analysis should be part of your pre-employment process.
A job analysis is the most comprehensive way to understand specific “can do” and “will do” components of your service, sales, and support job. With the help of a job analysis, you can accurately identify job candidates with the highest potential to become high performers. By using a job analysis to build a solid talent selection foundation, your organization can reap benefits that include higher customer satisfaction, higher revenue per call, lower early-stage attrition, and an improved company culture.
What is the definition of Job Analysis?
What is the definition of job analysis? The "Testing and Assessment: An Employer’s Guide to Good Practices", published by the US Department of Labor provides a job analysis definition. It says a "job analysis is a systematic process used to identify the tasks, duties, responsibilities and working conditions associated with a job and the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required to perform that job." This is one way to define job analysis and best describes its function.
George Thornton III, in his book Assessment Centers in Human Resource Management, provides some of the output an organization can produce from a job analysis.
What is the purpose of a job analysis and what does the analysis provide?
From the perspective of its intended purpose, what is job analysis? A job analysis leads to a wealth of information about a specific job. After the completion of the data-gathering for analysis job competencies are identified and clearly defined and can be used throughout the talent process stages from recruitment to pre-hire assessment to employee training.
Some of the data or information the job analysis process targets includes:
- A list of the competencies needed to be assessed
- Examples of behaviors that clarify the competencies
- Suggestions as to the types of exercises that resemble job situations
- Suggestions for problem content to be used in the exercises
- An indication of the level of proficiency required for the competencies
- Standards for scoring applicant performance in the exercises
- Documentation of job-relatedness of the assessment process (for use in the event of a lawsuit)
Essentially, a job analysis allows organizations to measure as many job-relevant characteristics as are feasible, so that they don't overlook important characteristics needed to predict employee success and potentially reap lower returns from the pre-hire process. However, the importance of job analysis extends to the talent management process from beginning to end.
Benefits of a Job Analysis
There is no doubt the job analysis provides a number of benefits to the organization. They include:
- Obtaining solid first-hand job-related data on the particular duties associated with the job
- Identification of risks associated with the job responsibilities
- Identification of the skills and abilities required for an employee to perform the job well
- Identification of critical competencies required for success
- Improved decision-making during the recruitment and hiring process
- Better replacement decisions when employees exit the organization
- More specific and accurate job descriptions
- More accurate job postings
- Assessment of the relative importance of the job to other jobs
- Promotion of improved performance appraisals
- Contributes to developing a more equitable compensation plan
- Drives training requirements through greater knowledge about each job duty
- Assistance with objectivity by enabling the separation of personal feelings about a person from job requirements
- Ability to offer evidence based and precise pre-hire employee assessments
The benefits of a job analysis are many, however there are a few things organizations must do in order to successfully execute a job analysis so that it is both successful and legally defensible.
How to Conduct a job analysis & steps in the process
The job analysis process requires a structured step-by-step approach. The process produces a lot of data that leads to the construction of a list of competencies a person needs to successfully handle the job.
Plan your process, resources, and timeframe
Upfront planning for job analysis is important to success. Establish the specific steps to follow, the people and other resources to commit to the process and the timeframe for completion. Planning the process, resources and timeframe adds efficiency to the process and ensures the job analysis is thorough and accurate.
Gather and analyze all current information about the job available in the organization (descriptions, ads, training materials, performance plans, etc.) and accessible externally
The next step is gathering job duty details through a variety of sources. Internal sources of information include existing job descriptions, job ads posted in the past, performance plans, employee training materials and any Human Resources documentation available. Information about the job is also available from industry data, subject matter experts, performance standards, online staffing resources, job ads and occupational studies. In other words, any and all forms of applicable resources are used. Develop standardized criteria for job evaluation.
Choose a representative sample of job holders
Select a group of employees who are currently doing the kind of work that must be managed by new employees. It is important to use standardized criteria that is developed based on the information previously gathered. The size of the sample varies depending on the complexity of the job.
Gather demographic data on the job holders
Demographic data is collected in various ways. The sample job holders can be asked to maintain a performance log for assessment, noting how things like past experience has been useful in certain situations. Observation of employee's currently performing the job, job sampling and employee surveys can also produce critical data on what type of personal qualities it takes to do the job. One of the best ways to gather demographic data is through structured interviews. Collect information about the employee's level of education, experience, qualifications and personal skills. The job holders are asked the same questions about the job, and the questions are asked in the same order. All employee answers collected through any collection method should follow a structured approach and answers evaluated against standardized criteria.
Gather information from the job holders' supervisors
Supervisors can add more information about job requirements, goals and objectives and the contributions to unit and organizational success. The supervisor also has firsthand knowledge of employees who were unable to succeed, those who performed beyond expectations and the relationship of the job to team efforts. Once again, consistency when interviewing, if more than one supervisor is involved, is important.
Gather information from the senior managers
The information gathered at this point is more strategic. How does this position fit within the 'big picture' of company success? For example, the big picture is that a call center position is critical for maintaining a positive brand reputation with customers. Senior managers are also knowledgeable of how the employee's job performance within a particular department or unit affects other departments.
Establish a preliminary list of competencies
By this step, a large amount of information and data has been gathered. Now it is time to develop a list of competencies the employee needs for job success. Job competencies are defined behaviors that can be measured to determine how well an individual will perform once employed. They include tasks, duties, responsibilities, knowledge, skills, abilities and any other characteristics important for successful job performance.
Obtain ratings of the importance of the competencies
Select and validate the final list of competencies. The final set of competencies are used for multiple purposes. They are used to develop a job description, support pre-hire assessment tests, measure performance, recruit job candidates, select employees and identify training needs.
The job analysis process also allows vendors to document the characteristics that SMEs (small to medium enterprises) feel are important for job success so the vendors can link those to the characteristics measured by the assessments. After that, vendors then validate any potential pre-hire assessment tools specifically for the role in which they will be used, so that they are properly utilized and deliver the maximum amount of value to the organization. The importance of job analysis to success in filling positions with people who are good fits for the job cannot be overstated – in terms of both skills and competencies fit and cultural fit.
To learn more, check out our blog on how to spot a quality pre-hire assessment and discover whether or not the vendor you're working with - as well as their product - is legitimate.