6 Critical Steps for Job Analysis: Find the Right Candidates

9 minute read

Posted by Chris Platts on 23 February 2021

Jobs are constantly evolving. Roles and responsibilities change in reaction to new technologies, externalities, and cultural norms. And as the people in our organisations change, so do the jobs themselves. 

It’s easy to lose track of these changes, making it difficult to hire the right candidates. New tasks and responsibilities require new knowledge, behaviours and skills. What’s often required to ensure we’re looking for the right attributes in new hires is a framework called job analysis.  This article explains how to design one and how to correctly implement it into your recruitment strategy.

What is a Job Analysis (and Why Does it Matter)?

A job analysis is a systematic process of determining the duties and responsibilities of a specific job and the qualifications necessary for performing it well. Companies that conduct job analyses correctly are more likely to design candidate selection criteria that align with job performance.

There are many reasons why your organisation should conduct them:

  1. Improving your recruitment process: According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 74% of employers said they’ve hired the wrong candidate for the position. Job analyses allow businesses to identify the most important characteristics needed for an employee to be successful in that position. From there, you can implement your findings into your pre-employment assessments and interview processes. 
  2. Setting realistic performance measurement targets: Finding realistic benchmarks for your employees to strive toward is the best way to maximize engagement and productivity. On one hand, setting low targets for your employees will minimize your company’s output. On the other hand, setting unrealistic goals can lead to employee burnout. The data collected should be utilized by HR as they conduct performance reviews and goal setting. 
  3. Identifying areas of improvement: Observing tasks your employees undertake on a daily basis will uncover areas of your organisation that need improvement. There may be some tasks that could be done more efficiently; similarly, you could stumble across an unnecessary task that you may choose to eliminate from your employees’ workload. Some jobs may need redesigning or restructuring, and you may even find that you need to create new positions. 
  4. Identifying training requirements: In order for a company to develop its new hires effectively, it needs to know exactly what tasks are required for that job. Failing to onboard and train your new employees effectively leads to high staff turnover
  5. Administering appropriate compensation: Job evaluation is the process in which a company compares the duties of various jobs within its company and determines each job’s pay rate. Adjusting a job’s compensation depends on its relative importance to the company and the difficulty of tasks in the job description. Therefore, conducting an analysis is a mandatory step in performing a job evaluation. 
  6. Avoiding litigation: To help protect your business from employee litigation and other legal issues you will need to demonstrate that candidates are fairly and reliably assessed on skills and behaviours that are intrinsic to the nature of the job being recruited. If this is unclear or if the recruitment process is selecting for non-job relevant characteristics, then you are at risk of being accused of unfair hiring practices. For more information on this, check out our guide to fairer hiring.

How to Conduct a Job Analysis

Step 1: Plan out your process

Before you start, take the time to lay down the specifics of the project such as: 

  • Which jobs will you be analyzing? 
  • Who will conduct the analysis? 
  • When will it be taking place? 
  • What methods will you be using (more on those later)? 
  • What resources will you need? 
  • How and where will you collect your data? 
  • What job-relevant materials are already available?
  • For what purpose(s) are you conducting the analysis? 

Answering all of these questions will inevitably increase the efficiency of the process. 

Step 2: Gather all current job and culture information

Studying how the role is perceived today from the outside in is a helpful first step, so before you get started, make sure you collect all the internal and external information concerning the jobs you’re analyzing. This includes: 

  • Previous job adverts
  • Job descriptions
  • Interview guides
  • Role specifications
  • HR documentation including employee handbooks, employment contracts etc
  • Training and development plans
  • Performance data
  • Exit interview data (e.g. why people leave this job)

Building this foundation of knowledge will help you to pinpoint what has and hasn’t changed in your jobs, and what may need changing after the process is completed. 

Step 3: Inform your employees

In order to study how people experience the job in your organisation you’ll need to spend time with people doing the role. Be sure to notify any employees beforehand about the process and what you require from them. It is often best to choose an approach that will work seamlessly with their working day; that way it should not interfere too heavily with the productivity of your company. 

At ThriveMap, we create “role stories” for each position ahead of developing our realistic day-in-the-life pre-hire assessments. If you’d like more information on this you can contact one of the team here.

Step 4: Conduct your analysis

Your analysis should provide any and all relevant information about a job, including:

  • Job title and reporting structure
  • Hours per week and location of the job, including flexibility
  • Specific tasks completed in a typical workday (including their importance and complexities)
  • Nature of task operation (activities required to carry out the tasks)
  • Levels of responsibility
  • Tools and equipment required to perform the tasks
  • Work environment and culture
  • KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) required, and how essential each one is to perform tasks at a sufficient level
  • Other desired personal attributes (physical demands, social skills, behaviours, etc.)
  • Hazards and risks involved in performing the tasks
  • Experience required (if required)
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Current pay rate and benefits
  • Reasons for exit; both voluntary and non-voluntary

There are various methods of capturing this information, these are:

  • Employee & manager questionnaires, entailing what people in the role do in a typical workday
  • Structured interviews with employees and managers
  • Job shadowing; direct observation of employees at work
  • Critical incident techniques; where employees describe critical incidents that have occurred over their time at the company, and how they resolved them
  • Employee work logs and task inventories (performed over a predetermined period of time)
  • Expert panels
  • Research/benchmarking on corresponding jobs at similar companies
  • Behavioural event interview (an HR-led performance and competency-based analysis)

The more of these methods that you include in your analysis, the more accurate and in-depth your results will be.

You may want to consider using a job analysis tool to help with this process; we’ve recently developed Signal; a job analysis questionnaire you can use for free. Click here to give it a try.

Step 5: Document your results

Once you have completed the process, write up a final report containing the data you have collected and the methodology used. The critical part is then making suggestions for the proceeding changes and improvements that you intend to make. Make sure to record your results in your company’s HR information system or shared company directory. Review your final report and verify with your current employees and supervisors that your results are accurate. 

Step 6. Action necessary changes

Once the information has been captured and approved, it’s time to make the necessary improvements and adjustments. The key areas where your insights can affect changes are:

  • Role specification – do elements of the job itself need to change or adapt? e.g. new reporting structures, new tasks and responsibilities or development opportunities
  • Candidate sourcing – Where should we be looking for individuals with the KSAs (Knowledge, skills, attributes) we require? Are these channels sustainable?
  • Candidate selection criteria – Are we looking for the correct selection criteria (KSAs) for new hires? Do our job descriptions accurately reflect the realities of the job?
  • Candidate selection methodology – Are we using the correct assessment method to analyse these KSAs? For example, should we be interviewing, asking for CVs, and conducting role-plays, or can we leverage online assessments?
  • Performance management – Are we setting realistic goals for employees in this position?
  • L&D – Are we training for the right skills and behaviours?
  • Compensation & benefits – Are we rewarding the right behaviours? Is our compensation plan fair and competitive?

Tips and Reminders

Conducting a successful job analysis can be time-consuming and complicated. So, before you jump in, here are a few tips and reminders:

  1. Make a job analysis template to capture all the important characteristics you are looking for in the job. This will make future job analyses considerably easier and more consistent. *check out a job analysis questionnaire like Signal here.
  2. Transparency is key; make sure that you update contributors on any relevant information that you gather throughout. Transparency in the process will make the people involved more receptive to helping out. 
  3. Analyse, don’t critique; remember, a job analysis is not a performance review. This process is about studying the job, not the person working it. Save your performance reviews for another day.
  4. Create and adapt; over time, allow for modifications as required while still providing employees with an understanding of what they are expected to do. Regularly and proactively update the information you’ve collected, and be aware that you’ll need to adjust your job analyses after any significant organisational changes or new procedures have been introduced. Go through this process as many times as needed in order to perfect it.

In Conclusion

Processes change, people change, and jobs change over time. Regular job analyses are the best way to stay ahead of the curve and ensure your hiring criteria is accurate. In recruitment, it provides you with the first step to improving your hiring outcomes by designing candidate selection methods that accurately assess the attributes (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities) identified to perform each job successfully.


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About ThriveMap

ThriveMap creates customised assessments for high volume roles, which take candidates through an online “day in the life” experience of work in your company. Our assessments have been proven to reduce staff turnover, reduce time to hire, and improve quality of hire.

Not sure what type of assessment is right for your business? Read our guide.

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