Data Collection Methods for Job Analysis

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 14: Job Analysis

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4


Data Collection Methods

  1. Observation
  2. Interview
  3. Questionnaire
  4. Diary / log
  5. Technical conference
  6. Checklists 


The job analyst observes the worker performing the job and records the methods or process of doing the job and the time taken to do the job. The Observation method of Job Analysis is suited for jobs in which the work behaviors are: 

  1. Observable involving some degree of movement on the part of the worker, or
  2. Job tasks are short in duration allowing for many observations to be made in a short period of time or a significant part of the job can be observed in a short period of time, or
  3. Jobs in which the job analyst can learn information about the job through observation.

Application of Observation Method

  1. Analyzing repetitive, short cycle, unskilled and semiskilled jobs 
  2. Best when used with other methods of job analysis

Advantages of Observation Method

  1. Accurate method
  2. Simple to use
  3. Verifies data from other sources
  4. Useful for manual and psychomotor tasks
  5. Ability to obtain first-hand knowledge and information about the job being analyzed.
  6. Direct Observation allows the job analyst to see (and in some cases experience) the work
  7. environment, tools and equipment used, interrelationships with other workers, and complexity of the job

Disadvantages of Observation Method

  1. Time consuming
  2. Small sample size.
  3. Requires skilled observer.
  4. Validity & reliability may be problematic
  5. Not applicable where job do not have easily observable job cycles or involves more mental process than physical
  6. Costly, as training would be involved to teach the analyst, what to observe and how to observe.
  7. The presence of an observer may affect the worker causing the worker to alter their normal work behavior.


Asking questions to both, incumbents and supervisors in either an individual or a group setting. Managers use three types of interviews to collect job analysis data—individual interviews with each employee, group interviews with groups of employees who have the same job, and supervisor interviews with one or more supervisors who know the job. They use group interviews when a large number of employees are performing similar or identical work, since it can be a quick and inexpensive way to gather information. We can interview the supervisor separately to get that person’s perspective on the job’s duties and responsibilities.

Questions should be open-ended. Open-ended questions provide a framework in which to respond, yet leave the responsibility with the employee to determine the level of detail to provide in the response. Example: “Describe how you balance the monthly accounting report.”

Avoid “yes-no” questions, unless they are the best way to get right to the point of an essential duty. Example: “Have you ever used power tools when performing electrical work?”

Classification of Job Interview

1. On the basis of people interviewed
a. Individual
b. Group
c. Supervisor interview
2. On the basis of type of questions
a. Unstructured
b. Structured

Steps of Interview

1. Plan 

2. Role establishment 

3. Conduction 

4. Closing 

5. Review and verification of information 

Advantages of interview method

  1. It’s a relatively simple and quick way to collect information, including information that might never appear on a written form.
  2. A skilled interviewer can unearth important activities that occur only occasionally, or informal contacts that wouldn’t be obvious from the organization chart.
  3. The interview also provides an opportunity to explain the need for and functions of the job analysis.
  4. The employee can vent frustrations that might otherwise go unnoticed by management.
  5. Can yield data about cognitive and psychomotor processes difficult to observe.
  6. Qualitative data can be examined.
  7. Works well for jobs with long job cycles.

Disadvantages of interview method

  1. Distortion of information is the main problem—whether due to outright falsification or honest misunderstanding.
  2. Employees therefore may legitimately view the interview as an efficiency evaluation that may affect their pay.
  3. They may then tend to exaggerate certain responsibilities while minimizing others.
  4. Obtaining valid information can thus be a slow process, and prudent analysts get multiple inputs.
  5. Requires experienced interviewer and well-designed questions.
  6. Difficult to combine data from disparate interviews
  7. Data gathered is subjective and should be verified


It includes a set of questions pertaining to the nature, duties, tasks and responsibilities is developed and given to the employees and supervisors / managers to provide the answers. They may be designed specifically for an organization, or more general to collect information from a large number of people working in many different organizations. 

The main thing to decide here is how structured the questionnaire should be and what questions to include. Some questionnaires are very structured checklists.


Standardized questionnaires have been developed by some agencies which may be used by various organizations for job analysis. Most of these questionnaires are of two types:-

  1. Position analysis questionnaire
  2. Management position description questionnaire

Advantages of questionnaire method

  1. Less time required to collect information.
  2. All job holders participate.
  3. Does not require trained interviewer
  4. Relatively less expensive
  5. Can reach more workers
  6. Data is standardized (structured).

Disadvantages of questionnaire method

  1. Requires specialized knowledge and training
  2. Costly method
  3. May be difficult to construct
  4. May have low response rate
  5. Responses may be incomplete
  6. Responses may be difficult to interpret (open-ended)
  7. Follow up observation and discussions are necessary to clarify inadequate filled up questionnaires and interpretation problems.


The diary or log is a recording by job incumbent of job duties, frequency of the duties after the duties have been accomplished. This technique requires the job incumbent to keep a diary / log on a daily basis.  Analyst asks workers to keep a diary/log or list of what they do during the day. For every activity he or she engages in, the employee records the activity (along with the time) in a log. This can produce a very complete picture of the job, especially when the supplemented with subsequent interviews with the worker and his or her supervisor.

Advantages of diary or log

  1. May be useful for jobs that are difficult to observe
  2. Collects data as events happen

Disadvantages of diary or log

  1. Too many variances in writing skills
  2. Can exaggerate task performed
  3. Remembering what was done earlier is sometimes difficult
  4. Consistent and continuous entries may be difficult to obtain
  5. Data not in standardized format
  6.  low response rate
  7. Responses may be incomplete
  8. Responses may be difficult to interpret (open-ended)
  9. Follow up observation and discussions are necessary to clarify inadequate filled up questionnaires and interpretation problems.


It is a method of job analysis base of SME (subject matter experts) includes supervisor, worker, and manager. This method uses “expert” rather than actual job incumbents as a source of information. These experts are usually supervisors who have extensive knowledge of the job in question. 

Several experts (often called “subject matter experts”) on the job collaborate to provide information about the work performed. A job analyst facilitates the process and prepares the job description based on the consensus of the technical experts.

The problem with this method is that the experts may not actually know as much about the job as the analyst would hope, since they do not actually perform the task themselves. Thus their judgments are only estimates based upon their background experience. 

Advantages of technical conference

  1. Data from experience is superior to observation
  2. Data is comprehensive
  3. Data from experience is superior to observation
  4. SME’s chosen for expertise and competence

Disadvantages of technical conference

  1. SME may have trouble breaking work into tasks and describing tasks.
  2. Time consuming.
  3. Differences in opinion may arise.


It is similar to questionnaire but has lesser subjective judgment and more ‘yes’ ‘no’ type questions.

A checklist may cover as many as 100 activities and job holder ticks only those tasks that are included in their jobs. After many job holders have responded, highly related behaviors are clustered by using statistical methods to form factors representing common underlying dimensions of task characteristics. 

Advantages of technical conference

  1. Early to administer.
  2. Easy to administer.
  3. Inexpensive.
  4. Tabulation and recording on electronic data processing equipment is possible.
  5. Useful in large firms which has large number of people assigned the same job.

Disadvantages of technical conference

  1. May not include all important part of work.
  2. Expensive for small firms.

Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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