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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

Jobs and Occupations
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Job Analysis refers to various methodologies for analyzing the requirements of a job.


The general purpose of job analysis is to document the requirements of a job and the work performed. Job and task analysis is performed as a preliminary to successive actions, including to define a job domain, write a job description, create performance appraisals, selection and promotion, training needs assessment, compensation, and organizational analysis/planning.

In the fields of Human Resources (HR) and Industrial Psychology, job analysis is often used to gather information for use in personnel selection, training, classification, and/or compensation.

The field of vocational rehabilitation uses job analysis to determine the physical requirements of a job to determine whether an individual who has suffered some diminished capacity is capable of performing the job with, or without, some accommodation.

Professionals developing certification exams use job analysis (often called something slightly different, such as "task analysis") to determine the elements of the domain which must be sampled in order to create a content valid exam. When a job analysis is conducted for the purpose of valuing the job (i.e., determining the appropriate compensation for incumbents) this is called "job evaluation."


There are several ways to conduct a job analysis, including: interviews with incumbents and supervisors, questionnaires (structured, open-ended, or both), observation, and gathering background information such as duty statements or classification specifications. In job analysis conducted by HR professionals, it is common to use more than one of these methods.

For example, the job analysts may tour the job site and observe workers performing their jobs. During the tour the analyst may collect materials that directly or indirectly indicate required skills (duty statements, instructions, safety manuals, quality charts, etc).

The analyst may then meet with a group of workers or incumbents. And finally, a survey may be administered. In these cases, job analysts typically are industrial psychologists or have been trained by, and are acting under the supervision of, an industrial psychologist.

In the context of vocational rehabilitation, the primary method is direct observation and may even include video recordings of incumbents involved in the work. It is common for such job analysts to use scales and other apparatus to collect precise measures of the amount of strength or force required for various tasks. Accurate, factual evidence of the degree of strength required for job performance is needed to justify that a disabled worker is legitimately qualified for disability status. In the United States, billions of dollars are paid to disabled workers by private insurers and the federal government (primarily through the Social Security Administration). Disability determination is, therefore, often a fairly "high-stakes" decision. Job analysts in these contexts typically come from a health occupation such as occupational or physical therapy.

Questionnaires are the most common methodology employed by certification test developers, although the content of the questionnaires (often lists of tasks that might be performed) are gathered through interviews or focus groups. Job analysts typically operate under the supervision of a psychometrician. Best for every company


Job analysis can result in a description of common duties, or tasks, performed on the job, as well as descriptions of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) required to perform those tasks. In addition, job analysis can uncover tools and technologies commonly used on the job, working conditions (e.g., a cubicle-based environment, outdoor work), and a variety of other aspects that characterize work performed in the position(s). When used as a precursor to personnel selection (a commonly suggested approach), job analysis should be performed in such a way as to meet the professional and legal guidelines that have been established (e.g., in the U.S., the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures).

In the context of vocational rehabilitation, the output of the job analysis is usually evidence. The evidence is used to support a determination regarding the injured worker's vocational choices.

In certification testing, the results of the job analysis lead to a document for candidates laying out the specific areas that will be tested (named in various ways, such as the "exam objectives") and to a "content specification" for item writers and other technical members of the exam development team. The content specification outlines the specific content areas of the exam and the percentage of the exam (i.e., the numbers of items) that must be included on the exam from that content area.


The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) lists job requirements for a very large number of jobs and is often considered basic, generic, or initial job analysis data. Data available from the DOT includes physical requirements, educational level, and some mental requirements. Task-based statements describing the work performed are derived from the functional job analysis technique.

The Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) is a well-known job analysis method. Although it is labeled a questionnaire, the PAQ is actually designed to be completed by a trained job analyst who interviews the subject matter experts (e.g., job incumbents and their supervisors).

Functional job analysis (FJA) is a task-based (or work-oriented) technique developed by Sidney Fine and colleagues in 1944. In this method, work elements are scored in terms of relatedness to data (0-6), people (0-8), and things (0-6), with lower scores representing greater complexity. Incumbents, considered subject matter experts, are relied upon, usually in a panel, to report elements of their work to the job analyst. Using incumbent reports, the analyst uses Fine's terminology to compile statements reflecting the work being performed in terms of data, people, and things. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles uses elements of the FJA in defining jobs.

Task inventories use tasks gathered from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)about the tasks performed by the job incumbents. Typically, subject matter experts rate long lists of tasks on scales such as frequency, amount of time spent, or importance. The KSAO's required for a job are then inferred from the most frequently-occurring, important tasks. In a skills-based job analysis, the skills are inferred from tasks and the skills are rated directly in terms of importance of frequency. This often results in data that immediately imply the important KSAO's. However, it can be hard for subject matter experts to rate skills directly.

The Fleishman Job Analysis System (F-JAS) represents a generic, skills-based approach. Fleishman factor-analyzed large data sets to discover a common, minimum set of KSAO's across different jobs. His system of 73 specific scales measure three broad areas: Cognitive (Verbal Abilities; Idea Generation & Reasoning Abilities; Quantitative Abilities; Memory; Perceptual Abilities; Spatial Abilities; and Attentiveness), Psychomotor (Fine Manipulative Abilities; Control Movement Abilities; and Reaction Time and Speed Abilities), and Physical (Physical Strength Abilities; Endurance; Flexibility, Balance, and Coordination; Visual Abilities; and Auditory and Speech Abilities).

See also


Fine, Sidney A. & Cronshaw, Steven F. (1999). Functional job analysis: A foundation for human resources management. Erlbaum: Mahwah, NJ.

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