Competency interviewing can help an employer to identify superior candidates and improve productivity levels without extra expense. It can also significantly reduce recruitment and outplacement costs.
Every job can be described in terms of key competencies and an interviewer can determine whether an individual is a good fit for the position by asking questions that show evidence of past behaviour. The best means of predicting how someone will perform in a new job is to examine past performance and behaviours in similar work situations.
Competencies are behaviours that people demonstrate at work that make them effective in the job they are employed to do. They are a mix of skills, know-how, motivation and personality traits.
Develop a set of competency questions based on the desired attributes required for a position and assess a candidate’s suitability based on their answers. There are several key competencies as follows:
|1. Management||5. Communication|
|2. Leadership||6. Decision Making / Problem Solving|
|3. Motivational Fit||7. Personal Attributes / Value System|
|4. Technical Competencies|
Running the Interview
- Identify the competencies required to successfully perform the role.
- Select questions from each competency group that best relate to the position, making sure to have a balance of positive and negative questions.
- Give the candidate a quick overview of the purpose and structure of the interview:
- You will be gathering competency information by asking questions that will draw on the candidate’s experience of particular situations faced in the work environment.
- You need them to provide specific examples of recent work experience (preferably within the last 2-3 years).
- They will need to provide specific examples of their personal involvement in certain situations, not what the team did, or answers depicting a general approach applied to situations.
- Examples they give should cover the STAR technique for answering competency based questions. If they aren’t familiar with it, explain the acronym – the Situation, the specific Task or objective, the Action they took, and the Result.
- If they run off topic, or give general responses you will need to interrupt them to get them back on track.
- There is a time limit for the interview, and if their answers are not providing the right information you may need to interrupt them.
- Ask for specific examples of past experience and look for STAR responses
- Conceal the intent of your question. Some questions can lead the candidate to give you the desired answer rather than the real answer.
- Ask open-ended questions. Watch out for words like ‘usually’ and ‘sometimes’ as they tend to lead to vague and general responses.
- Listen for ‘I’ language. You want to hear the candidate’s personal contribution to work, rather than team achievements.
- Don’t let candidates go off on a tangent with irrelevant answers. Rein them in and probe for specific information related to the question.
- Tap into thoughts and feelings, particularly in relation to organisational change or decision making (e.g. ‘how did that make you feel?’).
- Make sure you collect one behavioural example for each competency required for the position.
- Remember to gather Influencing Others / Communication Skills information when covering each competency.
Evaluating Behavioural Data
- Identify all the STAR answers, especially those that demonstrate multiple competencies.
- Evaluate each STAR in accordance with its relevance/importance to the target position.
- Give a ‘√’ for behaviours that were demonstrated as effective, and ‘X’ for those that were not.
- If the skill level is excellent give a double-tick. Likewise, mark with a double-X those skills that are very ineffective.
- Give each competency a rating from 1-5 based on their importance to the position, and score each answer accordingly.
- When you have gathered enough data you can evaluate a candidate’s suitability based on their overall score against the competencies set for the position.
|Photo by Ian Mynard|