Competency Based Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment and selection of appropriate staff is one of the most important and costly investments an organisation can make. RICO Training, Processes & Strategies can help maximise the outcomes of your investment through:

  • design and facilitation of processes to elicit role based competencies required by the organisation;
  • design of the checklists for behavioural indicators of those competencies;
  • selection, design and facilitation of a range of tools and indicators for the Selection process;
  • design and facilitation of assessment centres;
  • training of interviewers and assessment centre facilitators/assessors.

Outcomes of a Competency Based approach to Recruitment and selection

A competency based approach to recruitment and selection of staff can help your organisation make it an effective and successful investment of time, money and expertise. Such an approach will help ensure that:

  • the organisation is clear regarding the competencies and skill sets required by the job;
  • selection processes encourage a good fit between individuals and their jobs, managers and staff have the required skills and competencies;
  • individual skills and abilities are matched to the requirements of the job; and
  • evaluation of work demands and staffing are accurate.


What are competencies?

A competency is distinct from competence.

  • A Competence may be defined as:

    A task, function or role, specific to a job. What is to be achieved.

  • Competency may be defined as:

    The behaviourally defined characteristics which underpin effective and/or superior performance across a range of tasks. How the person should behave in order to achieve the objectives.

Competencies naturally cluster into three groups:

  • Cognitive (thinking)
  • Affective (feeling/relating)
  • Conative (acting)


What is Competency Based Recruitment and Selection?

Competency based recruitment and selection focuses on identifying those candidates that can evidence those behaviourally defined characteristics which underpin successful/superior performance in the role you are seeking to fill.

In recruiting and selecting staff, relying on several points of reference/bases of information rather than one, will most often allow for a better and clearer picture of a candidate's suitability for a position within your organisation.

Below are listed several types of reference points

  • Application Form
  • Competency Based Interview
  • Competency Based Referee Report
  • Work Sample Tasks
  • Group Discussion
  • Verbal Comprehension Test
  • Numerical Computation Test
  • Customer Contact Styles Questionnaire.


Common Mistakes a Competency Based Approach helps avoid

A competency-based approach to Recruitment and Selection will minimise the likelihood of error due to:

  • The Halo or Horns effect - when an overall evaluation of someone is made - positive or negative - which then influences all subsequent judgements thereby colouring the view of the candidate's actual performance, abilities, experience;
  • Cloning - the tendency to select people who are like us in background, appearance, personality and style - leads to a reduction in diversity and a loss of innovative potential within the organisation;
  • Inconsistency - in understanding of the competencies required - results in different assessors looking for and rating behaviours other than those specified by the competencies.
    • In the rating/ranking of candidate responses. May be evidenced by an assessor's tendency to leniency, harshness or assuming a central position to be reflected in a candidate's scoring rather than the candidate's actual level of competency;
  • First impressions - when the impact of a first encounter with a person (written or face to face) is such that there is a positive or negative judgment of all subsequent results in the selection process through disregard or colouring of the actual information;
  • The Primacy and Recency effect - when evidence brought out early in the process or towards the end of the process is weighted out of proportion to its significance;
  • Stereotyping - can cause us to prejudge in the absence of evidence, or operate as self-fulfilling prophecies.
  • Prejudice - when the extent of stereotyping is such that it leads to a negative evaluation of a person in most cases, regardless of the information available.


Competency Based Interviewing

A Competency Based Interview is a structured series of questions aimed at eliciting evidence of a candidate's behavioural fit against specific job-related competencies. These types of interviews are generally characterised by:

  • Candidates being asked the same or very similar questions;
  • Questions that:
    • relate to specific behaviours which have been found to be linked to successful/superior performance on the job;
    • do not ask the candidate to describe how they would respond in a particular situation or event - that is, they do not ask for hypothetical thinking and responses from the candidate;
    • ask the candidate to describe what they have done, what behaviours they have used, in a certain situation or event which has occurred in the not too distant past.
  • Each interview being time limited and lasting for the same amount of time, eg,. 30 minutes;
  • Interviewers halting the candidate's response to a question once they have heard sufficient evidence of the candidate's competency;
  • A second, more probing question being asked to elicit specific evidence where candidates do not provide an appropriate level of response to the scripted initial question;
  • Interviewers taking notes of candidate's verbatim responses which will be classified later to indicate evidence, or lack thereof, of the desired competencies;

A Competency Based interview process will allow for evidence based information which can then be verified with a candidate's referees


Competency Based Referee's Report

Using the same Competencies, questions relating to evidence of the candidate's capacity in each area are asked of their referees.

Other sources of information to inform decision making about candidate suitability:

The impact of these errors is further diminished through the integration of evidence taken from a variety of sources/reference points. These reference points may be provided by a range of tools including the following:

  • Application Forms
  • Competency Based Interview
  • Competency Based Referee Report
  • Work Sample Tasks
  • Group Discussion
  • Verbal Comprehension Test
  • Numerical Computation Test
  • Customer Contact Styles Questionnaire.