HR Glossary: What Is Job Analysis

Job analysis, also known as work analysis, encompasses a set of procedures aimed at identifying the content of a job. This involves understanding the activities, attributes, and requirements necessary for performing those activities. Job analysis plays a crucial role in providing organizations with insights to determine the best-fit employees for specific roles.

The process of job analysis begins with the analyst gathering information about the duties, nature of work, and basic qualifications of the incumbent. This information is then compiled into a job psychograph, a form that displays the mental requirements of the job. A valid task list, including functional or duty areas, related tasks, and basic training recommendations, is a measure of a sound job analysis. Subject matter experts and supervisors validate this list to ensure accuracy.

Purpose of Job Analysis

The primary purposes of conducting job analysis are to prepare job descriptions and specifications, aiding in the recruitment of the right workforce. Job analysis serves as the foundation for various organizational processes, including personnel selection, training, performance appraisals, and compensation plans. It is instrumental in understanding the behavioral requirements of work, both present and future.

Job Analysts

Professionals conducting job analysis are typically industrial-organizational psychologists or human resource officers, often supervised by an I-O psychologist. Morris Viteles, one of the first I-O psychologists, introduced job analysis in 1922, using it to select employees for a trolley car company.

Historical Context

Founders of I-O psychology, Frederick Winslow Taylor and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, conceptualized job analysis in the early 20th century. Despite evolving systems and methods, the fundamental purpose of job analysis, understanding the behavioral requirements of work, has remained consistent for over 85 years.

Job Analysis Techniques

Two main approaches to job analysis are task-oriented and worker-oriented procedures.

Task-Oriented Procedures

These focus on the actual activities involved in performing work, considering duties, responsibilities, and functions. Task analysis techniques, such as Functional Job Analysis (FJA), involve scoring work elements in terms of relatedness to data, people, and things.

Worker-Oriented Procedures

These aim to examine the human attributes needed for successful job performance, categorizing them into knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs). The Fleishman Job Analysis System (F-JAS) is an example of a worker-oriented approach, identifying a common set of KSAOs across different jobs.

KSAOs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other Characteristics)

Regardless of the approach taken, the next step in job analysis is to identify the attributes or KSAOs required for job performance. Knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics such as personality variables, interests, training, and experiences are crucial components.

Job Analysis Methods

Various methods are employed for job analysis, including observation, interviews, critical incidents, work diaries, questionnaires, surveys, and tools like the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) and checklists.


This traditional method involves watching incumbents perform their jobs, collecting data, and gaining a better understanding of job tasks.


Structured interviews with incumbents supplement observation, providing valuable insights into job-related information.

Questionnaires and Surveys

Subject matter experts respond to questionnaires or surveys, rating task statements and providing quantitative data for analysis.

Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ)

A well-known job analysis instrument, the PAQ, measures job component validity of attributes and includes behavior-related statements.


Checklists are employed to have incumbents check tasks they perform from a predefined list, aiding in job analysis.

Job Analysis Process

The job analysis process typically involves six steps:

  1. Decide how to use the information.
  2. Review appropriate background information.
  3. Select representative positions.
  4. Actually analyze the job.
  5. Verify the job analysis information.
  6. Develop a job description and job specification.

Uses of Job Analysis Information

Job analysis information finds application in various organizational processes:

  • Recruitment and Selection: Contributing to the content of advertisements and ensuring candidates with the right attributes apply.
  • Compensation: Assisting in job evaluation by providing descriptions for ranked positions.
  • Performance Appraisal: Helping managers determine specific job activities and performance standards.
  • Training: Informing the development of training programs based on job requirements.
  • EEO Compliance: Playing a vital role in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) compliance, ensuring selection criteria are related to job requirements.

Job Analysis at the Speed of Reality (JASR)

The Job Analysis at the Speed of Reality (JASR) method is a reliable and efficient way to create validated task lists. The process involves subject matter experts and managers completing a job analysis in a short timeframe, resulting in a validated task list.


Historically, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) provided comprehensive job descriptions. However, ONET has replaced DOT, offering a database with job requirements for various occupations. ONET includes multiple descriptors, content domains, and a taxonomic approach to occupational classification.

Modern Trends

The concept of job analysis has evolved in response to changing organizational structures. Flatter organizations, work teams, and boundaryless organizations have contributed to the trend of dejobbing. Organizations are moving towards broad, dynamic job configurations, emphasizing flexibility and adaptability.

In conclusion, while traditional job analysis methods persist, modern organizations are exploring new organizational configurations that redefine the meaning of jobs, encouraging flexibility and adaptability in the ever-changing business landscape.

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