Article: How to integrate competency-based hiring in recruitment

Talent Acquisition

How to integrate competency-based hiring in recruitment

A guide to help recruiters and managers hire better candidates using competency-based hiring models.
How to integrate competency-based hiring in recruitment

Hiring processes are usually tricky, primarily because it involves human resources at both the ends (interviewer & candidate), both with varied personalities, perceptions, attitudes & behaviors. It becomes even more complex when we have vague answers or no answers to questions like what is needed, why it’s needed, when it’s needed and how to go about it. Here are a few reasons why traditional hiring processes fail to deliver desired results: 

  • Lack of proper competency profile for a role
  • Hiring for perceptions rather than competencies
  • Unclear expectations from the role/resource
  • Inability to match candidate profile with competency profile

Thus, having a structured competency-based hiring process in place helps hiring the best candidate for available roles. It should then come as no surprise that most global organizations have a competency-based hiring model in place that supports a robust recruitment process. 

Creating Competency Profiles

Creating competency profiles for a role includes mapping various competencies required for a candidate to successfully perform that role. It includes:

  1. Identifying key competencies
  2. Identifying the importance of each competency for a particular role

In order to understand this better, let’s consider the competency profiles of a manager and a coordinator. For a managerial role, ‘leadership skills’ might hold a very high importance; however, the same competency is absolutely not needed for a coordinator role. Similarly, for a coordinator role, ‘understanding & translating instructions for task accomplishment’ might hold a very high importance; however the same competency is not needed for a coordinator role.

It’s crucial to understand that every role has a different competency profile, and hence, also has a different interview assessment criterion. This necessitates the need for preparing a well thought of competency profile for any role before starting the hiring process. We must remember that there are no tailor-made candidates; however, someone with the relevant competencies can always be trained to become a perfect fit.

Designing competency-based interview questions 

Assessing on competencies can be tricky but it’s really worthwhile to train the hiring managers on acquiring this skill for effective hiring. One of the key lessons here to understand that past behavior is the best indicator of future performance. Competency-based interview questions are designed to let the candidate talk; they are open-ended and they invite a response that tells the employer about a real-life challenge that candidate has faced and how they reacted. It’s easy for a trained hiring manager to distinguish between a rehearsed answer and a genuine answer.

The key to designing competency-based interview questions is to interpret the responses properly and match the responses with the requirement of the role. Questions that encourage the candidate to probe and reflect are usually used to understand the candidate and determine if they are a right fit. You can use the STAR approach to design competency-based questions:

S/T- Create a Situation or a Task

A- Seek the action taken in that situation by the candidate

R- Seek the final outcome/result of that action & candidate’s reaction to it.

Here are some examples of competency-based questions to assess different skills in a candidate:

Evaluating competency-based interviews

Interpretation of answers to competency-based questions goes beyond understanding the meaning of plain words. The use of the probing technique can help undertake the best assessment of a candidate’s reaction. For example, for a question such as "Describe a time when you had to deal with pressure", the positive and negative indicators may be as follows:

Structured interviews: Eliminating perceptual bias 

Structured Interviews- Each candidate for a role is evaluated against the exactly same functional, technical & behavioral competencies that are essentially decided in the competency-profile of the role with the same importance. Interview Questions mostly remain similar for every candidate. For example, interviewers can rate the same candidate in the following manner and derive at the average:

Assessment profiles like the one shown above can be created for all the candidates, and the ones with the best rating can be selected for the next round. These can then be tallied with the functional or technical competencies (which are based on more factual information) to take the final decision. Since we are keeping the behavioral skills constant for each competing candidate and the final score is arrived at by considering 3 different evaluations, chances of perception-based short-listing are largely eliminated. 

At the end of the day, misfits are bound to be hired, and the right fits are bound to become misfits if we do not do the groundwork properly. Resources employed with confused expectations from the hiring managers are bound to fail. Hence it becomes critical that have a concrete answer to deciding how and why we choose which candidate and a replicable strategy to implement it.

Read full story

Topics: Talent Acquisition, #GuestArticle, #Hiring

Did you find this story helpful?



What kept you sailing through your work life in 2020?

2 months free subscription

Subscribe to all new People Matters HR Magazine


And Save 59% plus Two months free

Subscribe now

How are you tracking performance of your employees in a post-COVID workplace?

READ the February 2021 issue of our magazine to find out how organizations are doing it.

Read Now