Ask Me No Questions… Competency and Skill Based Interviews

Posted by Vincent Fabello on May 7, 2015


When I was a new hiring manager, I did not know how to interview. Sometimes they were just a meandering recap of their education and work history as well as highlighting odd or interesting bits out of their resume. Sometime it was asking their thoughts on new technology or trends. They were not always the best indicators of how well they would perform their job role. But there is a lot more to a good interview than where they have worked previously.

Ask Me No Questions… Competency and Skill Based Interviews

In addition to making sure candidates are a correct culture fit to your organization, they must be a great fit to the position. Hiring managers and team members must be able to make the best judgment on which candidate the best fit for the needs. Are they currently asking the right questions to determine this fit? Competency and skill based interviews allow them work towards this goal.

What is a competency and skill based interview?

Competency and skill based interviews ask questions directly targeting particular information. Open interview questions such as “so tell me about yourself” allow the candidate to choose the topics to discuss. Questions targeting a specific scenario allow your team to focus in on those competencies and skills important to the position.

What competencies and skills are needed?

Take some time to make sure that everyone involved has discussed the specific competencies and skills that the candidate needs to exhibit to be an ideal match. For instances, a project manager may need to show leadership and organization to the team reporting to them. The marketing team they will work with may need them to have certain communication skills. And the IT team may need knowledge of specific technical skills to quickly work together. An inventory of these competencies and skills and the required proficiency level will help make sure everything is accounted for.

Once the competencies and skills have been identified, ask questions that allow the candidate to focus on how they have dealt with past situations using those competencies and skills. If adaptability is an important part of the role, a question targeting the candidates experience and reaction to a changing situation directs the candidate’s answer. “Tell me about a difficult change that occurred in a project. What happened and how did you react to it? What were the end results?” The candidate’s answers not only give insight on the particular situation, but they also give insight on the competency of adaptability.

Interviewers can rate the candidate’s reaction to the situation. How well the candidate initially reacted as well as how they reacted as the situation played out can determine how client facing or issue facing they should be versus part of the support staff. Follow-up questions can be asked to fully cover the different aspects of that competency or skill that is needed for the team.

By focusing on the competencies and skills needed that have been identified for the job, the interview shows which candidates are the best match the job.

Other Ways to Track Skills and Competencies