During hiring process, companies focus on an individual’s competencies, and this is more evident today than ever. Their understanding of the value of people to help them communicate their core competencies to their market and the rest of the world has paved the way for the integration of competency-based hiring practices.
The kind of people hired by any company will impact the business, and such impact can go either way – good or bad. The employees are the heart of the company; if they are highly competent individuals then they will contribute greatly to the company’s success. Conversely, if ineffectual employees are hired then it can be expected that this will only bring problems to the business.
In hiring, two factors determine individual competencies:
(1) Knowledge and Skills (including functional competencies or the technical qualifications)
(2) Attitude (behavioral characteristics).
In the past, only the technical qualifications were considered without really looking into the person’s behavioral abilities. Competency-based hiring is defined as the use of assessment tools that will allow the interviewer to identify the competencies of an applicant, which are not limited only to knowledge and skills, but also in terms of behavioral characteristics.
In helping to define the specific kind of competencies that a company should be looking for, hiring officers need to find out what competencies are needed for the following: position-specific roles and organizational roles. Position-specific roles would require competencies that will enable an individual to perform his tasks well, whereas organizational roles would require competencies that will equip an individual to work towards the values, principles, and culture of the organization. Essentially, competency-based hiring is all about identifying an individual’s competencies based on their past experiences, with due consideration on that person’s capacity to fit into the organization’s values, principles, and culture.
Traditional Interview vs. Competency-Based Interview
As previously mentioned, technical qualifications were the only ones considered. This included educational background, credentials, and functional competencies. This was the traditional way of hiring people for a company and it was found that this method was poor and insufficient in predicting the future performance of any person. This is because such type of interview only provides the interviewer with information on previous work experiences, the scope of previous job, and specific accomplishments but it does not tell the interviewer the “how’s” and the “why’s.”
On the other hand, with competency-based interviews, one is able to determine an individual’s experience as well as his current level of competence required for the position which he is applying for. It gives the interviewer a clear picture of the applicant’s behavioral abilities because questions to be asked focus on reactions, reasoning, perception, and opinions on workplace situations that he has been put into during his previous work experiences.
Competency-based interviews are also referred to as Structured Interviewing. It revolves around the universally accepted theory that an individual’s past performance and behavior at work is an accurate predictor of future performance and behavior. It has been said that such type of interview is five times more accurate than a traditional interview.
Competency-Based Interview Questions
Since knowledge and skills competencies can be initially identified just by going over an applicant’s resume and cover letter, competency-based interviews focus mainly on behavioral characteristics or the attitude competencies. Such information can be identified by asking a series of situational questions. Some examples are as follows:
- Tell me about a time when your boss reprimanded you for a project you had worked on.
- Describe a scenario at work wherein you found very frustrating.
- Give an example of a situation where you felt very proud of yourself.
- What was the most difficult obstacle you have ever come across with and how did you manage it?
- Describe your work relationship with the other members of your team from your previous employer.
Aside from situational questions, interviewers may also ask direct competency-based questions, such as:
- What is your work philosophy?
- How would you rate your typing skills?
- Describe the way you manage other people in the office.
- How efficient are you at managing your time?
- What do you think would your previous employer say about you if he was here now?