Awareness of “must-have” competencies is the secret weapon of hiring. But, unfortunately, it is frequently overlooked—much to the detriment of an organization’s impact.

The Criticality of Must-Have Competencies

In the context of hiring, “must-have” competencies are a candidate’s traits that get evaluated through interviewing. Focusing on competencies reduces bias by targeting relevant topics while also giving predictive value to evaluating candidate responses. The emphasis on “must-have” is because interviews are ultimately brief interactions. Therefore, any time spent communicating with a candidate should be on the most urgent competencies and not wasted on “nice-to-haves.”

Describing Competencies

Explain competencies in plain, simple terms. Then, anyone who reads the competency should be able to recognize what it is quickly.

Make sure that each competency embodies a distinct, easily recognizable trait. For instance, oral communication differs from written communication. Therefore, neither trait belongs under the same competency.

Don’t be overly detailed while defining the competency. For instance, rather than emphasizing one specific computer program, it is preferable to have a general competency that covers computer skills.

Make the competency definition behaviorally based. This makes it possible to verify and evaluate the competency using measurable actions, such as those in the applicant’s resume.

Eliminate unnecessary qualifiers (“Thorough knowledge, considerable skill or basic understanding”). They make it difficult to discriminate between different performance examples and may lead interviewers to doubt their evaluations.

Reviewing Competencies

Subject matter experts should be directly involved in the creation of competency lists. This way, the organization can be confident in the list and make necessary changes before the competencies get used in writing interview questions and job descriptions.

Foundations of Successful Hiring

Before a candidate can get an offer, multiple candidates must get evaluated. How can you be sure that your assessment identifies the candidate with the competencies required to succeed in your organization?