With the current economic pressures on businesses and organisations in the UK and the global workplace, the use of competencies by businesses and organisations is becoming increasingly widespread. One of the most common applications of competencies is in the recruitment and selection process.
Businesses and organisations are moving or changing so fast that there is less time than ever to hire “green” talent. And, hiring the wrong person today is costly in recruiting and hiring costs and in lost productivity. It has been estimated that the wrong hire costs 1.5 times that person’s annual salary.
Competency based interviews can assist with identifying candidates with the required competencies or with potential to develop. Similarly, organisations can choose people who come closest to matching its requirements, and place them in the jobs to which they are most suited, and which matches their interests.
Assessing competencies predict potential performance better than traditional hypothetical interviewing approaches. However, traditional interviews should be used in conjunction with competency based interviews as it can provide insights into candidate’s current technical knowledge.
Competency based interviewing is a process by which an interviewer gains specific understanding of the knowledge, skills and attributes brought by a candidate. The questions asked relate specifically to competencies necessary to be effective in the position being filled, and require the interviewee to provide depth around specific capabilities.
This approach differs from traditional interviewing in that questions are asked that allow candidates to demonstrate their experience and past behaviour with respect to a particular competency. In a traditional interview approach, interviewers ask candidates questions requiring general knowledge or personal awareness, but these often have very little to do with the open position.
Since the best predictor of future behavior is an individual’s past behavior, behavior-based interviewing allows an interviewer to learn, with concrete examples, whether the person has the competency and whether they can apply it in this situation.
Competency based interviewing generally involves the use of probing questions to establish exactly what the applicant did in a given situation and why. This enables the candidate to fully demonstrate their ability. Typical examples of interview questions include:
“Building Relationships” competency:
An interviewer might say to a candidate: “Tell me about a time you dealt with a particularly difficult client.”
“Problem Solving” competency:
An interviewer might say to a candidate: “Describe a recent problem you encountered on the job and tell me how you went about solving the problem.” Here the
interviewer wants to understand the candidate’s approach and whether it fits with the culture and the position being filled.
An interviewer might say to a candidate: “Have you ever needed to motivate a colleague or subordinate? How did you approach the situation?” The interviewer is less interested in whether the candidate managed anyone than how they can motivate others.
Many businesses and organisations are now preparing interviewers by creating competency-based interview guides with questions that probe for the competencies needed for the open positions.
Competency frameworks are valuable in organisations for aligning human resource systems. To be effective, competencies need to be used for selecting candidates, and then used as objective measures for development, performance management, succession planning and career mobility.
Competency-based behavioral interviewing starts this process by giving interviewers the information they need to select candidates who best fit the needs of the organization and the role for which they are being interviewed