Methods of Collecting Job Data

The methods of collecting job-related data are (i) observational method, (ii) interviews, (iii) questionnaire, (iv) checklists, (v) technical conferences, and (vi) diary. A combination of these approaches may be used depending upon the situation and the organization. A brief description of each method is in order.


In this method, the job analyst carefully observes the job holder at work and records what he or she does, how he or she does, and how much time is needed for completion of a given task. This method has both positive as well as negative sides. On the positive side, the method is simple, and the data collected are accurate because of direct observation. On the flip side, it may be told that the method is time consuming and inapplicable to jobs which involve high proportions of unobservable mental activities and those which do not have complete and easily observable job cycles.

The analyst needs to be trained to carefully observe and record the competence of a job incumbent. And training means additional cost. Considering all these, the observation method may be used for analyzing repetitive, short-cycle, unskilled and semi-skilled jobs. Better results will be available when the observation method is used along with other method(s) of job analysis.


In this, the analyst interviews the job holder and his/her supervisor to elicit information about the job. Usually, a structured interview form is used to record the information. During the interview, the analyst must make judgements about the information to be included and its degree of importance.

The interview method is time consuming. The time problem will be compounded if the interviewer talks with two or more employees doing the same job. Furthermore, professional and managerial jobs are more complicated to analyze and usually require a longer interview. Then, there ts the problem of bias. Bias on the part of the analyst and the job holder may cloud the accuracy and objectivity of the data obtained. The interview method has one positive feature, that is, it involves talking to the job holders who are in a good position to describe what they do, as well as the qualifications needed to perform their duties in a competent manner.

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The effectiveness of the interview method depends on the interviewer and on the ability of the job holder to make meaningful responses.


Job holders fill in the given structured questionnaires, which are then approved by their supervisors. The filled-in questionnaires offer enough data on jobs. Standard questionnaires are available or they may be prepared for the purpose by the analysts. Standard or prepared, questionnaires should contain the following basic information:

1. The job title of the job holder;

2. The job title of the job holder’s manager or supervisor;

3. The job titles and numbers of the staff reporting to the job holder (best recorded by means of an organization chart);

4. A brief description (one or two sentences) of the overall role or purpose of the job; and

5. A list of the main tasks or duties that the job holder has to carry out; as appropriate, these should specify the resources controlled, the equipment used, the contracts made and the frequency with which the tasks are carried out.

The questionnaires method has its own advantages and limitations. The major advantage of the questionnaire method is that information on a large number of jobs can be collected in a relatively short period of time. But some follow-up observations and discussions are necessary to clarify inadequately filled-in questionnaires and interpretation problems. Further, the questionnaire method helps save time and the staff required to carry out the programme. Finally, all the job holders participate in the method unlike in an interview where one or two workers only would participate.


A checklist is similar to a questionnaire, but the response sheet contains fewer subjective judgements and tends to be either-yes-or-no variety. Checklists can cover as many as 100 activities and job holders tick only those tasks that are included in their jobs. Preparation of a checklist is a challenging job. The specialists who prepare the list must collect all relevant information about the job concerned. Such information can be obtained by asking supervisors, industrial engineers, and others familiar with the work.

When a checklist has been prepared for a job, it is sent to the job holder. The job holder is asked to check all listed tasks that he/she performs and indicate the amount of time spent on each task as well as the training and experience required to be proficient in each task. He/she may also be asked to write any additional tasks he/she performs which is not stated in the checklist.

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One advantage of the checklist method is that it is useful in large firms that have a large number of people assigned to one particular job. Also, this technique is amenable to tabulation and recording on electronic data-processing equipment. The technique, however, is costly and, hence, not suitable for small firms.

Technical Conference Method

In this method, services of supervisors who possess extensive knowledge about a job are used. It is from these experts that details about the job are obtained. Here, a conference of supervisors is used. The analyst initiates discussion which provides details about jobs. Though a good method of data collection, this method lacks accuracy because the actual job holders are not involved in collecting information.

Diary Method

This method requires the job holders to record in detail their activities each day. If done faithfully, this technique is accurate and eliminates errors caused by memory lapses the job holder makes while answering questionnaires and checklists. This method, however, is time consuming because the recording of tasks may have to be spread over a number of days. It also engages considerable time of a production worker. No wonder, the diary method is not used much in practice.

The methods described above are not to be viewed as mutually exclusive. None of them is universally superior. The best results can be obtained by a combination of these methods.

Quantitative Techniques

The methods of collecting job-related data, described above are used by most employers. But there are occasions where these narrative approaches are not appropriate. For example, where it is desired to assign a quantitative value to each job so that jobs can be compared for pay purposes, a more quantitative approach will be appropriate. The position analysis questionnaire, management position description questionnaire and functional job analysis are the three popular techniques of job analysis.

Position Analysis Questionnaire

The Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) is a highly specialized instrument for analyzing any job in terms of employee activities. The PAQ contains 194 job elements on which a job is created depending on the degree to which an element (or descriptor) is present. These elements are grouped into six general categories.

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The primary advantage of the PAQ is that it can be used to analyze almost every job. Further, this analysis provides a comparison of a specific job with other job classifications, particularly for selection and remuneration purposes. However, the PAQ needs to be completed by trained job analysts rather than incumbents or supervisors, since the language in the questionnaire is difficult and at a fairly high reading level.

Management Position Description Questionnaire

The Management Position Description Questionnaire (MPDQ) is a highly structured questionnaire containing 208 items relating to managerial responsibilities, restrictions, demands and other miscellaneous position characteristics.

Functional Job Analysis

Functional Job Analysis (FJA) is a worker-oriented job analytical approach which attempts to describe the whole person on the job. The main features of FJA include the following:

1. A fundamental distinction must be made between what has been done and what employees need to do to get the things done. For example, bus crew do not carry passengers, but they drive vehicle and collect fare.

2. Jobs are performed in relation to data, people and things.

3. In relation to things, employees draw on physical resources; in relation to data, employees draw on mental resources; and in relation to people, employees draw on interpersonal resources.

4. All jobs require employees to relate data, people and things to some degree.

Sonia Kukreja

Written by Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.

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