Competency-based recruitment is a process of recruitment based on the ability of candidates to produce anecdotes about their professional experience which can be used as evidence that the candidate has a given competency. Candidates demonstrate competencies on the application form, and then in the interview, which in this case is known as a competency-based interview.
The process of competency-based recruitment is intended to be fairer and a more realistic approach than other recruitment processes, by clearly laying down the required competencies and then testing them in such a way that the recruiter has little discretion to favour one candidate over another; the process assumes high recruiter discretion is undesirable. As a result of its perceived fairness, the process is popular in public services. Competency-based recruitment is highly focused on the candidates’ story-telling abilities as an indication of competency, and disfavours other indications of a candidate’s skills and potential, such as references.
Elements of a competency-based job description
- Job title: Title that is used to refer to the employees position in the company e.g. Project Manager
- Relevance of position: Statement about how the position supports the company (with its business plan and objectives)
- Major responsibilities: List of the main activities that the individual must undertake on a day-to-day basis
- Critical criteria: Standards and qualities that candidates must have in order to be considered for the job
- Preferred criteria: Qualities that the company would like candidate to possess but are not crucial in the day-to-day activities of the job
- Reports to: Who their manager is
There are 4 main reasons why competency-based job descriptions are crucial to businesses:
- They provide crucial information for assigning the correct title and pay grade for the job.
- They make it easier to recruit candidates as the process becomes more efficient.
- Means potential candidates have a complete understanding of the duties and responsibilities they are to undertake.
- Finally, the competencies identify the essential functions of the job.
Competency Life Cycle
The competency life cycle consists of 4 phases which aim to develop and enhance individual and organisational competencies. The different phases are:
Competency mapping: This phase is there to provide the company with a summary of all the crucial competencies needed in order to fulfil its targets (outlined in the business plan), outline the job requirements and the group needs. This phase also defines the required skill level for each job profile
Competency diagnosis: This is based on the current employees in the company. This outlines the present proficiency level each employee possesses. The company will perform a ‘skill gap analysis’, which defines the gap between the skills the employee currently has compared to the competencies needed for their job
Competency development: This phase deals with development of training/activities the company provides to employees to fill the skill gaps found in the previous phase
Monitoring of competencies: An analysis of the results of the competency development phase.
In order to conduct thorough competency analysis, one has to gather information from various sources. These sources are known as job content experts (JCEs) and they have a good understanding of positions in companies. JCEs are usually the people who manage the position one is looking to fill. The first step of the competency analysis is to accumulate detailed descriptions of the tasks which make up the job: ‘task analyses’. This is done through a range of data collection methods:
- Job observation: Observe people already in the job and ask them to describe what they do etc.
- Incumbent interviews: Conduct interviews with people already in the job, asking each individual the same set of questions. The questions should be based on their key responsibilities, problems they need to solve/ difficulties they face, skills they feel are needed for success etc.
- Critical incidents meetings: Meetings with JCEs, getting them to provide examples of times employees have been highly efficient or inefficient
- Competency vision meetings: Meetings with ‘visionaries’, those who know about the future of the company. The reason for these meetings is because the hiring manager is looking for an employee who will stay for the long term and an employee who will contribute to the future success of the company.
- Competencies help a business distinguish their top performers and their average ones. This is useful information for managers when it comes to giving out bonuses.
- As competencies are linked to business objectives or business strategies, aligning the two is more effective and convenient for the business, making it more streamlined.
- Identifying and using core competencies to create goods & services results in major contributions to the companies competitiveness.
- Businesses that use the competency-based approach will generally have a more flexible workforce, with individuals who are well trained and this should result in a successful performance from those employees.
- Staff turnover is reduced if competency-based job descriptions are used, as candidates whom are best suited for the role are hired.
However, there are also some negative aspects of competency-based job descriptions. They can be time-consuming, as it takes a long time to gather the data needed to decide which competencies are relevant for the job profile. This process can also be very costly and not all businesses may have the funds available to carry out the competency analysis. The analysis also requires staff with specific skills, which certain businesses may lack.
As competency profiles are developed for varied job groups, the following implementation stages are suggested for their use in recruitment and selection on a corporate-wide basis.
- Define the policies and decision-rules for using competencies in the recruitment and selection processes
- Identify considerations / guidelines for including information on competencies in notices of job requirements
- Develop sample notices of job requirements as the competency profiles become available for use.
- Customize or build an interview / reference checking question bank organized by competencies included in the competency profiles.
- Customize or build other competency-based tools or processes (e.g., track-record reviews) that can be used across a number of occupational groups.
- As the competency profiles are completed for the job groups, develop and implement recruitment, and selection processes consistent with policy and tools / templates defined in Stage 1, Review and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of these processes and adjust policies, procedures, templates, etc., as required.
- Plan for and train managers and HR personnel on appropriate competency-based interviewing approaches (e.g., behavioral interviewing; situational interviewing). This training should be just-in-time i.e., as competency profiles become available for the different job groups.
- Plan for, design and implement an orientation / training program for employees on how to participate in a competency-based recruitment and selection as new processes are being implemented).
- Collect data on the effectiveness of the new recruitment and selection process (e.g., correlate results of selection process with on-job or training performance results) and make adjustments to the process, as required.
Competency based Selection
The use of competency-based selection procedures for selecting high performing employees has become a standard practice for many organizations.
Systems Predict Future Performance
Core competencies are identified for specific roles by evaluating past or current employees who were successful in that role. Through performance management, critical incidents, decisions and actions are evaluated to find key competencies which are then built into a predictive model to inform the recruitment and selection process. This model, called a logistic regression model, is then used to identify other candidates or employees who possess the key competencies. This information is not only used in the recruitment and selection process, but further on down the road in the talent lifecycle in succession planning and resource allocation.
Provide Clear Candidate Feedback
Competencies provide criteria that can easily be translated into candidate feedback after the selection process. Providing candidate feedback is a best practice to improve the candidate experience whether the applicant is extended an offer or not. By having the competencies criteria on hand, hiring managers are able to formulate clear, justifiable responses to the candidate to support their decision. 94% of candidates want feedback if they are rejected after the interview. However, research shows only 41% of candidates have actually received that feedback after a rejection. The challenge with finding what feedback to provide is nearly obsolete with the help of a competency-based interviewing and scoring process.
Competency Based Systems Lower Employee Turnover
Another desirable outcome of using competency based recruitment and selection is the reduced turnover rate. Leslie Dotson, HR manager for talent and selection at a dental equipment manufacture.