Being able to identify a candidate’s core competencies and how they relate to your hiring needs is a crucial tool every recruiter/hiring manager needs. In this article we discuss what core competencies are, how you go about finding them and what the next steps  once they are identified.

What Are Core Competencies

What skills does a candidate need to succeed? What does your company culture look like? What knowledge must a candidate bring to the table? Asking these types of questions puts you well on your way to hiring with core competencies in mind. At their root, core competencies are a collection of skills/attributes that potential employees need to have to carry out their work effectively.

There are two different categories of core competencies: technical qualifications (skills, knowledge, expertise) and behavioral characteristics (personality, culture fit). Neither category is more important than the other and both must be considered to avoid a toxic hire.

Finding Employees Competencies

So now that you know what core competencies are and the two different categories they fall under, how do you actually go about finding candidates that fit the bill? There are many different ways to identify a candidates core competencies; what works best will depend on factors that are unique to your company and the position you are hiring for. Below are some best practices and ideas you can easily adapt to fit into your company’s unique hiring landscape.

Use Structured Interviews – Having a structured interview process is the best place to start for any company in any industry. Structured interviews reduce bias and time to interview by giving you the exact roadmap you need to make the best hiring decision. They usually consist of behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions to get the full picture on a candidate. Read more about using structured interviews here.

Change Up Your Interview Process – Having structured and pre-formulated questions is great, but too much consistency can actually hurt your interview process. Including a few oddball or scenario based questions is a great way to differentiate your process from other companies and give you more in-depth information on candidates. Consider doing interviews in places outside your office; changing the environment in which you work can increase focus and lead to ideas/conversations you may not have in your normal setting.

Incorporate AssessmentsUsing assessments in your interview process is a great way to see if a candidate would be a good fit for the role. There are two main types of assessments: technical and personality. Technical assessments tell you what hard skills a candidate has while a personality assessment gives you insight into what type of employee somebody would be and if they would fit the company culture. By incorporating some form of assessment into your hiring process you will get a better picture of what core competencies candidates have.

Build Backwards – It can be challenging to know what you are looking for in a candidate when a role first opens up. One good strategy to identify what core competencies you are looking for is to look at the job description and build your interview process around those criteria. By starting with the end in mind you will have a clearer picture of what a potential employee needs to bring to the table.

Where to Go From Here

Once you have figured out what a candidate’s core competencies are and how they relate to the role you are hiring for, it’s time to make your decision. It’s awesome how much data you now have on a candidate but one big mistake that a lot of companies make is solely looking at the data.

Just because a candidate doesn’t check every single box doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a good fit for the role. A person’s attitude and ability to pick up new skills is a huge factor that should be taken into account. Hiring somebody who claims to know it all can be great for the short term but having an employee who may start out with room to grow can be a huge win for your company in the long term. Investing in a more “green” candidate is a great opportunity to grow an employee into a perfect fit instead of hiring someone who may be more stuck in their ways.

One last thing to keep in mind is to not lose the human element in hiring. Recruiting is still done by humans for a reason, if all that mattered was what was on paper AI recruiting would be much more widely used than it is today. Use the core competencies you have found to aid in your hiring decision but always trust your gut.

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