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:
In this method the job analysts actually performs the job in question. The analysts thus receive first hand experience of contextual factors on the job including physical hazards, social, demands, emotional pressures and mental requirements. This method is useful for jobs that can be easily learned. It is not suitable for jobs that are hazardous (e.g. fire fighters) or for jobs that require extensive training (e.g. doctors, pharmacists).
The analysts 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 observations certain precautions should be taken:
1) The analysts must observe average worker during average conditions.
2) The analysts should observe without getting directly involved in the job.
3) The analysts must make note of other specific job needs and not the behaviors specific to particular workers.
4) The analysts must make sure that they obtain a proper sample for generalization.
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.
Critical incidents: the critical incident technique (CIT) is a qualitative approach to job analysis used to obtain specific behaviorally 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 analyzed and classified according to the job areas they describe. The job requirements will become clear once the analysts draw the line between effective and ineffective behaviors 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 behavior 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 or behaviors can be quite dissimilar the process of classifying data into usable job description can be difficult. The analysts overseeing the work must have analytical skills and ability to translate the content of descriptions not meaningful statements.
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 organizations.
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 interviewer’s skills and may be faulty if they put ambiguous questions to workers. Last, interviewers 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.
Excerpts from HRM VSP