Are you hiring top talent with the right degrees and experience, but something still seems to be missing? Imagine the capability of taking it a step further, beyond the candidate’s credentials and measuring if they’re truly capable of handling the position you are hiring for. Focusing more on the competencies of a candidate, rather than credentials, will allow you to do just that.

It’s reported that 31% of organizations have yet to define the essential leadership competencies needed for leaders at all levels to achieve business goals. And of those who have defined leadership competencies, just 8% have automated competency management, according to Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Talent Management Study.

Defining Competency-Based Hiring

Competency is simply the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. The term core competency was originally introduced in 1990 by the Harvard Business Review to describe the management concept of corporations possessing specialized expertise in a specific area. The concept of core competencies was quickly adopted by many corporations to communicate what they did “best” and to leverage the competitive advantages of their brands.

Core competencies are grouped in two ways:

  1. Skills, knowledge and technical qualifications
  2. Behavioral characteristics, personality attributes and individual aptitudes

Competency-based hiring starts by identifying a full range of competencies required for success in a position and then gauging each candidate’s demonstration of those traits. A candidate’s competencies can be measured from when they respond to a job posting, to their interviewing and onboarding process, to performance reviews.

Hiring Accuracy

Competency-based recruiting can serve a number of purposes, allowing a company to achieve the desired performance in their hired candidates. Competency-based hiring provides a clear understanding for the recruiters as well as the candidates about the requirements of an open position.

This process leads to a more standardized selection process because the same standards are used to evaluate all of the candidates applying for the same position. There are also fewer hiring mistakes with this recruitment process. It helps prevent recruiters from evaluating candidates based on characteristics that might not relate to the job itself or position they’re interviewing for. With little to no hiring errors, it improves the accuracy in assessing a candidate’s traits needed for the job.

Competency-Based Interviews

Competency-based interviews are more systematic, with the questions targeting more of a specific skill or competency. Candidates are also asked questions relating to their behavior in certain circumstances and asked to back up their answers with solid examples. The hiring managers dig further into the provided examples by asking for specific explanations about the candidate’s skills or behavior. For example, the interviewers might want to test how a candidate can deal with stress.

First, they would ask the candidate how they generally handle stress, then ask to provide an example of a situation where they worked under pressure or stress. There are a number of different interview questions that a candidate can be asked, depending on the competency. Adaptability, compliance, communication (verbal, listening and written), conflict management, creativity and innovation, decisiveness, flexibility and independence are just a few competency topics interview questions are formed around.

Example Interview Questions:

  • Give us an example of when you took responsibility for delivering expected outcomes, giving credit to other teams and individuals where appropriate.
  • Tell us about a situation when you failed to communicate appropriately.
  • How do you respond to customer feedback?
  • What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken? How did you handle that process?
  • Tell us about a decision you made too quickly and got wrong. What made you take that decision?

A competency-based hiring process requires a company to invest a lot of time and effort, but the work pays off in the end because it enables the hiring decisions to be more appropriate and sophisticated. After a candidate is hired, core competencies continue to be useful in setting goals and positioning new hires for success.

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