Key Tips

  • Competencies are a cluster of behaviours that employers deem vital to job success
  • Employers will typically assess between 4-8 competencies, any more or less is unusual
  • Competencies can be assessed using structured interviews or Assessment exercises such as Group DiscussionsPresentations etc.
  • Competencies are about how you behave, so the idea is to identify how you have behaved in the past by asking for examples from the past, or by observing how you behave in an exercise

Competency Assessments

What are competencies? Competencies are a cluster of behaviours that are linked to job performance. Individuals displaying positive behaviours, for a particular competency, are likely to do well in a job.

Numerous competencies exist and organisations tend to have competency models or frameworks which apply to either a particular job or the organisation as a whole. For example, a competency model for a ‘sales’ role may include the following competencies:

  • Planning and organising – for client meetings
  • Influencing and Persuading – talking to and convincing potential buyers
  • Communicating – presentations, and good verbal and non-verbal communication

Every job has a number of competencies assigned to it but often this number will be between 4-8. In an assessment, including interviews, it is uncommon for you to be assessed on any more than 4-5 competencies.

Each competency is underpinned by positive and negative indicators which are non-exhaustive lists of behaviours. The indicators are often used as criteria or a check-list, against which an assessor can rate a candidate’s competence for that area. So for example, considering the ‘Communication’ competency, the following behaviours may be used as indicators for assessors:

Positive behaviours

  • Conveys message clearly in a manner that is understood
  • Uses good eye contact and nods
  • Demonstrates good listening
  • Simplifies technical messages for others

Negative behaviours

  • Speech is unclear
  • Does not maintain regular eye contact with others
  • Interrupts others or speaks over them
  • Uses complex terminology with lay audience

In an interview then, you should ensure you cover the positive behaviours in the example that your provide to any question. In an observed assessment, such as a group exercise, ensure you demonstrate these positive behaviours.

Want to know what questions are likely to appear in your interview? Complete our short ‘Question-Identifier’ tool (QIT) now and we will provide you with the questions that are most likely to come up, along with sample answers.