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How to Competency Interview
It has never been more critical to develop a robust recruitment process to help lessen the risk of hiring mistakes.
This short overview details some basic steps to help reduce the temptation to recruit on nothing more than 'gut feel' or instinct.
Competency-Based Interviewing is the most effective form of interviewing as it focuses on gathering evidence of required skills, experience and personal qualities, known collectively as competencies. The aim is to obtain information about a candidate's past behaviour and experience so that you can effectively 'score' and compare candidates against each other.
In essence, it's a long and rather grand term for what effectively is an interview with questions that are in essence, "give me an example of.." rather than "what would you do if...". For example, "give me an example of when you've led a team?" and "when have you not completed a project in time, what happened?"
To perform a Competency-Based Interview will take around two to three hours of planning, but hopefully, you will notice that your interviews are more worthwhile and have greater structure. Combining a competency interview technique with the Aaron Wallis psychometric profile and bespoke interview questions will help you make your hiring decisions based upon gathered evidence rather than 'gut feeling'.
Competency-Based Interviewing - Planning
First, you must list the competencies required to succeed in the job role. They should relate directly to the essential criteria/ competencies needed to succeed. Competencies for hiring a Senior Recruitment Consultants, for example, are as follows: Meeting Goals, Sales Planning, Leadership in Adversity, Positive Mental Attitude, Communication, Perseverance, Ethics/Values and Goals/Ambitions.
Once you've agreed on the list, each competency should be given a score out of five. From one (the lowest score, or did not provide evidence of any description for this competency) to five (the highest, or gave highly satisfactory evidence of high levels of this skill/experience/quality).
Then for each mark, detail the evidence.
Leadership in Adversity
- Gave no evidence of leading under challenging situations.
- Demonstrated some leadership qualities in a difficult situation.
- Adequately led in a difficult situation.
- Kept a level head in a difficult situation and demonstrated practical solutions to the problem.
- Competently and effectively led the team during a problematic situation, creatively solved issues and kept the team together with a level head.
How to Execute a Competency-Based Interview
You now need to prepare a list of questions, or themes, to tease out the situation/event that provides evidence of the required competency.
You then need a list of questions, or themes, that ladder from the answers. This laddering technique probes into the detail, allowing you to gather the required evidence. I appreciate that this may appear daunting at first, but the more use this 'laddering' technique, the more it will flow naturally. Going back to the 'Leadership in Adversity' scenario example, questions could be as follows:
Tell us about a crisis or unplanned event that happened and the response of your team?
What specifically was the situation?
What made this incident a real crisis?
What were your first thoughts?
What specifically were you able to do to contribute to resolving the event?
How did you coordinate the team?
What was the mood of the team?
Were there any difficult team members in this situation, and how did you handle them?
Who were you communicating to?
How did you go about it?
What was the outcome?
Were you happy with the outcome?
In hindsight, would you have handled the situation differently?
You can then score each candidate effectively against the competency from the answers given. Build up this questioning process for all of the required competencies, and you now have an incredibly effective interviewing tool against which you can benchmark and select.
Now build up example questions for each of the competencies, and you will have developed an incredibly effective interviewing tool to use both now and for the future.
The Outcome and Benefits
Using this technique, you can now 'score' each candidate effectively against each required competency, and you're recruiting more on proven evidence than instinct.
Scoring candidates against competencies still involve some degree of objectivity, so we recommend that two interviewers sit in on each CBI and each 'scores' independently. The scores can then be discussed and deliberated in a post-interview 'wash up' or simply added together and halved. Now divide the total score by the total possible score and have a percentage to benchmark candidates and make your decisions.
Added benefits of competency interviewing are:
You can effectively communicate your hiring reasoning within your organisation.
The technique often teases out development areas.
It makes constructive feedback for unsuccessful candidates easier to communicate.
You have on record and on the candidate's personnel record the data behind your hiring decisions.
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Date published: 22nd November 2022
Recruit sales staff
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by Rob Scott
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