Research shows that competency-based hiring not only improves the quality of hires but also significantly increases retention levels and the hiring of diverse candidates. In one survey, an employer saw a 15%-20% decline in turnover after implementing competency-based hiring, which is achieved through competency-based interviewing.
Competency-based interviewing: the basics
Competency-based interviewing is a strategy that hiring managers use to determine whether the candidate has the skills needed for the job. Basically, the interviewer asks specific questions relevant to the job in order to reveal past behavior and predict future behavior. For this reason, competency-based interviews are often called behavioral interviews.
These interviews seek to uncover key competencies, such as:
- Time management.
- Work ethics.
To determine which questions to ask in a competency-based interview, you must first conduct a job analysis. Once you have a detailed understanding of the role, you can create a set of questions focused on the competencies for that role.
Examples of competency-based interview questions
Here are some examples of questions that measure competencies necessary to many jobs. Hiring managers should tailor them to the roles in question.
- Intellectual. What are some critical lessons you’ve learned during your career journey? How did you handle a situation that did not go as you expected?
- Interpersonal. Tell me about a time when you and other team members disagreed on certain aspects of a project. How was the issue resolved, and what role did you play in the resolution?
- Leadership. Provide some examples of when employees followed your guidance and when they did not. When they did not follow your guidance, what actions did you take?
- Motivational. What do you enjoy the most about your current job, and why are you interested in this job? Describe a situation in which you performed at your highest level and how it made you feel.
- Personal. Explain a time when you had to change course during a project. Did you adapt, and if so, how? What was the last major obstacle you encountered at work, and how did you handle it?
Structured competency-based interviews
Competency-based interviews should be structured. Adhering to the same process for each candidate gives you a strong basis for comparison. To get the best results:
- Develop a fixed process in which candidates are asked the same initial questions.
- Make sure each interviewer knows how to use the grading system, to ensure fair and consistent scoring for each candidate.
- Engage in active listening, which is key to processing complex information.
- Give the candidate a reasonable amount of time to think about your questions and to respond.
- Take notes to remember what was said, including the candidate’s responses to probing questions.
- Review and discuss (with stakeholders) the candidate’s interview performance and any work samples they provided. Depending on the evaluation, you may need to ask the candidate additional questions.
In the end, competency-based interviews enable you to make informed, objective and consistent hiring decisions based on the candidates’ abilities.