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How a Job Analysis Can Help Your Startup Hire the Best Talent

January 3, 2017

startup-hiring.jpgDepending on where you live, new companies might pop up faster than you can imagine. Startup companies have big challenges. They need to establish themselves as a solid business, differentiate themselves from other companies, grow financially, the list goes on and on.

Once startups get a firm footing and are poised for expansion, the next challenge is actually hiring new talent. When you’re adding positions and human capital to startups, you need to be very strategic in your approach. You are in a position to bring in top talent that reflects your ideal company culture. The right hires will set your company up for success in the future. This means you need to develop a robust hiring process to recruit, identify, and retain high-quality individuals.

A job analysis is the core of every selection process. This analysis gathers detailed information on the required knowledge, skills, behaviors, and traits for the position you’re hiring for. Job analyses typically involve direct observation and detailed discussions with higher performing incumbents.

Related: How to Conduct a Job Analysis

But, in the case of startups, oftentimes there are not any incumbents to observe or talk to. Therefore, a different strategy needs to be taken. Let’s walk through a Q & A of what needs to happen for startups.

What process is taken instead?

Since startups often don’t have job descriptions developed or people in the target position, they would need to conduct a strategic job analysis.

What is the goal of a strategic job analysis?

The goal of a strategic job analysis is very much the same as a job analysis. The goal is to identify the critical knowledge, skills, and behaviors that allow someone to be successful on the job. This information guides companies into developing the hiring process, creating performance reviews, developing training initiatives, and so forth.

Who is involved in the strategic job analysis?

It’s important to recruit job content experts for a job analysis. For a strategic job analysis, job content experts would be those individuals who are intimately familiar with the job and requirements necessary. This may be the future supervisor or others in the department that can speak knowledgeably about the role. Job content experts may also include visionaries of the company that can share the direction of the company as well as challenges that individuals in the target position may face given the industry and future state of the company.

What steps are involved in the process?

A strategic job analysis would include several interviews with job content experts. The goal of the interview is to gather a complete list of all the job tasks and functions of the target position.

While some of these may not be fully developed or known, the important thing is to think broadly about what is going to be most common and critically important, not just ancillary in nature. Once all of the critical tasks are identified, it’s then necessary to identify what knowledge or skills would be necessary to have in order to perform those tasks successfully. Compiling all of this information across job content experts will provide a good foundation.

What do you do with the information?

Based on findings from the strategic job analysis, startups can use this information to develop application questions, identify an assessment appropriate for use, create an interview guide, and add any other steps to the hiring process. The strategic job analysis will justify questions within your application or assessments. It’s a very important and necessary step to make sure that startups fully think through expectations so they can bring in individuals poised for success based on the skills needed.

Is a strategic job analysis limited to startups?

No! They can be used in situations when established companies are creating a new position or are making significant changes to the position due to shifting goals or business demands.

Overall, the strategic job analysis provides a basis for all other HR functions. This is a good starting point. However, it’s a good practice to check back in after some time has passed to ensure that what was projected to be the essential behaviors and skills are actually in practice.

HR Analytics


Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.