Job analysis is a formal and detailed examination of jobs. It is a systematic investigation of the tasks, duties and responsibilities necessary to do a job. A task is an identifiable work activity carried out for a specific purpose, for example, typing a letter. A duty is a larger work segment consisting of several tasks (which are related by some sequence of events) that are performed by an individual, for example, pick up, sort out and deliver incoming mail. Job responsibilities are obligations to perform certain tasks and duties. Job analysis is an important personnel activity because it identifies what people do in their jobs and what they require in order to do the job satisfactorily. The information about a job is usually collected through a structured questionnaire:
A variety of methods, are used to collect information about jobs. None of them, however, is perfect. In actual practice, therefore, a combination of several methods is used for obtaining job analysis data. These are discussed below.
Job performance: In this method, the job analyst actually performs the job in question. The analyst thus receives first-hand experience of contextual factors on the job including physical hazards, social demands, emotional pressures and mental
Personal observation: The analyst observes the worker(s) doing the job. The tasks performed, the pace at which activities are done, the working conditions, etc., are observed during a complete work cycle. During observation, certain precautions should be taken:
i. The analyst must observe average workers during average conditions.
ii. The analyst should observe without getting directly involved in the job.
iii. The analyst must make note of the specific job needs and not the behaviours specific to particular workers.
iv. The analyst must make sure that he obtains a proper sample for generalisation. This method allows for a deep understanding of job duties. It is appropriate for manual, short period job activities. On the negative side, the method fails to take note of the mental aspects of jobs.
requirements. This method is useful for jobs that can be easily learned. It is not
Critical incidents: The critical incident technique (CIT) is a qualitative approach to job analysis used to obtain specific, behaviourally focused descriptions of work or other activities. Here the job holders are asked to describe several incidents based on their past experience. The incidents so collected are analysed and classified according to the job areas they describe. The job requirements will become clear once the analyst draws the line between effective and ineffective behaviours of workers on the job. For example, if a shoe salesman comments on the size of a
customer’s feet and the customer leaves the store in a huff, the behaviour of the salesman may be judged as ineffective in terms of the result it produced. The critical incidents are recorded after the events have already taken place – both routine and non-routine. The process of collecting a fairly good number of incidents is a lengthy one. Since incidents of behaviour can be quite dissimilar, the process of classifying data into usable job descriptions can be difficult. The analysts overseeing the work must have analytical skills and ability to translate the content of descriptions into meaningful statements.
Interview: The interview method consists of asking questions to both incumbents and supervisors in either an individual or a group setting. The reason behind the use of this method is that job holders are most familiar with the job and can supplement the information obtained through observation. Workers know the specific duties of the job and supervisors are aware of the job’s relationship to the rest of the organisation.
Due diligence must be exercised while using the interview method. The interviewer must be trained in proper interviewing techniques. It is advisable to use a standard format so as to focus the interview to the purpose of the analyst. Although the interview method provides opportunities to elicit information sometimes not available through other methods, it has its limitations. First, it is time consuming and hence costly. Second, the value of data is primarily dependent on the interviewers’ skills and may be faulty if they put ambiguous questions to workers. Last, interviewees may be suspicious about the motives and may distort the information they provide. If seen as an opportunity to improve their positions such as to increase
their wages, workers may exaggerate their job duties to add greater weightage to their positions.
Panel of experts: This method utilises senior job incumbents and superiors with extensive knowledge of the job. To get the job analysis information, the analyst conducts an interview with the group. The interaction of the members during the interview can add insight and detail that the analyst might not get from individual interviews.
Diary method: Several job incumbents are asked to keep diaries or logs of their daily job activities – according to this method – and record the amount of time spent on each activity. By analysing these activities over a specified period of time, a job analyst is able to record the job’s essential characteristics. However, it is a time consuming and costly exercise in that the analyst has to record entries for a painfully long time.
Questionnaire method: The questionnaire is a widely used method of analysing jobs and work. Here the job holders are given a properly designed questionnaire aimed at eliciting relevant job-related information. After completion, the questionnaires are handed over to supervisors. The supervisors can seek further clarifications on various items by talking to the job holders directly. After everything is finalised, the data is given to the job analyst.
The success of the method depends on various factors. The structured questionnaire must cover all job related tasks and behaviours. Each task or behaviour should be described in terms of features such as importance, difficulty, frequency, relationship to overall performance, etc. The job holders should be asked to properly rate the various job factors and communicate the same on paper. The ratings thus collected are then put to close examination with a view to find out the actual job requirements. The Questionnaire method is highly economical as it covers a large number of job holders at a time. The collected data can be quantified and processed through a computer. The participants can complete the items leisurely. Designing questionnaires, however, is not an easy task. Proper care must be taken to frame the questions in such a way that the
respondents are unlikely to misinterpret the questions. Further, it is difficult to motivate the participants to complete the questionnaires truthfully and to return them.

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