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Analyzing an Existing Job

If you're hiring to replace an employee who's leaving you, you have more information and knowledge to work with. You can talk with the employee who is leaving (in some cases) and, if you have other employees doing the same type of work, you can get input from them. There are a few ways to gather this information ranging from informal to formal, and you may choose to try one or all of them.

Job analysis interviews. If you're gathering information about a position that is currently filled by an employee, the best way to get good information about that position is to talk with that employee. It can be especially helpful if the employee is leaving and you will need to replace him or her, or if you are hiring someone else to do similar duties as the current employee.

Job analysis interviews are especially helpful for analyzing management jobs. Interviews can also be an excellent way to follow up on the information that you assemble through written questionnaires.

If you have only one or two other employees, this approach may seem too formal and drawn out for you. Instead, sit down with the employee and discuss which duties may have changed and which skills they felt were the most important in doing the job.

Employee observation. Observing employees is, historically, one of the most commonly used job analysis techniques. In most small businesses, the owner is the only supervisor, so to some extent you'll already be observing the employee who's leaving. Observation can also serve as a complement to an interview, just to be sure that nothing was left out. There are some drawbacks to observation, though.

  • A good job analysis will analyze the employee performing the job through a complete job cycle.
  • When observing an employee, the person observing has to be sure not to let opinions about the employee get in the way of observing the job. Don't analyze the employee — analyze the job.
  • Observing employees is easier in a manufacturing or production environment. Observing an administrative assistant may not be as easy because the jobs and tasks may vary so widely from day to day.

Written questionnaires. A questionnaire is a written series of questions completed by an employee that relate to the specific duties of the job, the tasks the employee does most, and the skills the employee will need to do the job.

Questionnaires can be simple or complicated. The questions can be highly structured or open ended. For most small businesses, you'll want to ask a series of open-ended questions that allow the interviewee to give a narrative form of answer, such as an essay question. Open-ended questions are especially effective for positions that cover a wide range of responsibilities. Remember, the main objective is to find out what is done and what you need done. Going through this process can help you to crystallize your thoughts into a clear picture of what you need and which skills a prospective employee must have to do them.

Business Tools

Also available among the Business Tools are sample job analysis checklists. Try to customize the questions as much as possible to your type of business and the work that your employee does or will do.