Article: Metamorphosis of HR: Competing with the new competencies


Metamorphosis of HR: Competing with the new competencies

A clearly defined competency-based selection process can aid in recruiting, demonstrate fairness, encourage diversity and simplify the process of filling new openings. But creating or refining your selection process requires time and effort.
Metamorphosis of HR: Competing with the new competencies

A renowned HR head said,” I wonder if we interview people for selection or elimination”. The statement held true across cultures and companies and was an unsaid way of recruiting people.

An industry to function and perform and yield financial results, it invariably depends on factors like men, machine, material, money and market. Men or human resource being the epicenter of any and every organisation is of paramount importance. An effective and competitive human resource is the key to the strength of organizations in facing the challenges of business today. The importance of having a competitive manpower is synonymous with the success of today’s organizations. An efficient and effective human resource will produce quality, productive individuals that will eventually minimize the problems that are related to human resource such as job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, cultural-fit or turnover of employees.

The Recruitment and Selection process is a series of hurdles aimed at choosing the best candidate for the job. It is the process through which an applicant proves his possession, of the skill-sets required for the job. More importantly, it weeds out misfits.

Traditionally Recruitment has been carried out through the below described process:

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Active candidates are attracted through company websites, job portals and employee referrals. The prospective profiles are thoroughly screened by the Hiring managers; reading through the skills sets, the project reports (read for the projects never undertaken) and personal achievements decorated with on the spot awards and contributor of the year.

Post umpteen rounds of interviews with hiring managers, executive leadership and HR a candidate is selected who might have the skills and years of experience. However, the stakeholders remain unsure about the on the job performance and candidate credibility as a leader.

The risks can be high as the cost of a bad hire have a very negative impact, not only in terms of time and money, but also on team morale and organisational culture .Many organisations have hence been using competency based recruitment model. It is  therefore imperative that Competencies are in cognizance with the Job Profile. Or so to say let's change the prism through which we look at prospective job seekers. Let's turn the journey from outside to within!

Competency Based Recruitment

The competency model was published by McClelland in 1973. A job can be  broken down into Knowledge skills and competencies. It focuses the search for the candidates that can demonstrate the behaviorally defined characteristics that have proven to lead to successful and superior performance.

An effective recruitment and selection campaign is supported by a well-planned process, starting by analysing the available position to ensure that the competencies required for the aligned tasks are identified and the associated behaviours are accurately quantified.

A clearly defined competency-based selection process can aid in recruiting, demonstrate fairness, encourage diversity and simplify the process of filling new openings. But creating or refining your selection process requires time and effort. The recruitment process begins with generating leads and creating a pipeline of applicants. When looking at Competency based recruitment model, one has to get to the basics right and it starts with creating the right Job description

Foundation of a Selection process

Competency based Selection helps in validating fair and job-related standards against which to assess applicant competencies. It also augments the transparency of the selection process. It lays foundation of a well-designed, recruitment and selection processes; drafting clear and transparent criteria to assess candidates (e.g., input for future learning and development; etc.);

Organisations can create re-usable selection tools and processes (e.g., question banks for interviews and reference-checking organized by competency; template interview and reference checking guides; targeted role plays, work simulations, in-basket assessments; etc.) and hence standardizing the Recruitment process for all levels. The success of the Selection process can be evaluated on the same parameters - e.g., correlating the results of the selection process with competency-based on-the-job performance.

Starting with the Basics of a Job

Initial steps to institute Competency based hiring start with the key document -  “The Job Description” for the role and the “Person Specification”. 

Developing a Job Description involves gathering information about the nature of the job, thinking not only about the content (i.e. tasks) making up the job, but also the job’s purpose, and how the post fits into the organisation’s structure. It is equally important to consider the skills and competencies needed to perform the role effectively.

The person specification flows from the job description and answers the question “What skills and qualities would someone need to carry out this role?”. The person specification identifies the qualifications, skills, experience and competencies needed for effective performance. Using competencies clarifies the personal qualities and workplace behaviours expected. 

The quality of talent pipeline is governed by the Job description Design. It should be brief, self-explanatory, relevant, share the KPIs essential to perform a job tasks and of course it must be an original version.

It will be more useful as a process if the job description is develop internally and the behavioral characteristics of your ideal candidate.

Sound like a lot of effort? It is. But, you'll have a much better idea about the characteristics of the ideal candidate you want to attract to your company when you do this planning

The Sifting of the Talent Pipeline

Once the Job description is designed, next follows the selection process, which includes the choice of methods by which an employer reduces a short-listed group following the recruitment stage, leading to an employment decision.

Many organisations still rely blindly on the outcome of interviews to make selection decisions. Interviews should be conducted or supervised by trained individuals. The interview is more than a selection Tool.

The competency model of selection, seeks to identify abilities needed to perform a job well rather than focusing on individual characteristics and hampering the process with interviewing errors & biases

Below indicated are a few steps to Competency based selection

  • There should be a list of Top Technical competencies identified for each role & Skill.
  • Interviews should be conducted by a centralised team of trained Interviewers.
  • It always good to develop inhouse Technical scorecards, each scorecard listing the Technical skills and competencies required to successfully perform a role. One can also look at assessments available online.
  • Cultural Fitment is equally important and should be measured through various Assessment center tools. There are multiple in-basket exercises, group discussions, case studies which are available to assess proficiency levels of an Individual.
  • The selection decision should be based on inputs from all the stakeholders, with each member having the VETO power.


Selection based on attributes, skills and competencies doesn't leave a company on a blind spot, ensuring candidates are judged on similar competencies for a respective role and appreciate the recruitment process, augmenting the trust and fairness of the selection.

Organisations can make better hiring decisions, conduct gap analysis for the selected individuals, ensuring he/she has access to relevant trainings and can be efficient from Day one and  most importantly one would no longer use the GUT instinct to hire , rather they will be guided by STATS and Analytics.

Leveraging Linkedin,Twitter, Facebook has proven be effective  and attracting active talent. However, it’s not enough these days to post a job listing on your company website and hope that the suitable candidate will apply. You need to be active to attract passive candidates, the ones who are not aggressively seeking a job change and are waiting for that right oppourtunity to knock at their door. In order to compete, you need to make sure your recruitment strategies are up to snuff.

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Topics: Recruitment

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