Use Competency Interview Guides to Conduct Structured Event Interviews

The Premise:
Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. People have unique and characteristic ways of dealing with work situations. As a result, they develop preferred ways of operating. Because of these preferences, they develop particular abilities and become competent in their use. Some of these preferences, abilities and competencies are significant in predicting job success. People do—in the course of describing experiences and accomplishments—offer valuable information to adequately discern their preferences, abilities and competencies.

A competency-based interviewing protocol can be used to assess the competencies (skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics) of a candidate that have been determined to be required for superior or effective performance in a job. These competencies are usually identified through job competency modeling. Interview guides can provide an easy-to-follow format for structured, behavioral-based interviews. Each Workitect interview guide, with specific questions related to each of  thirty-five competencies in Workitect’s competency dictionary, makes it easy for a hiring manager or interviewer to collect behavioral examples about a candidate’s relevant work experiences and accomplishments. These interview guides can be used with other generic competency dictionaries or lists of competencies. Most of the Workitect competencies (definitions and behavioral indicators) are similar to non-Workitect competencies. For example, most competency dictionaries include a competency similar to Interpersonal Effectiveness and Fostering Teamwork. 

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Related Reading

Blueprint: Competency-Based Assessment and Selection    
Blog: Six Steps to Conducting a Behavioral Event Interview
Website page: Competency-Based Assessment and Selection
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The Purpose

Interview guides are designed to assist in the behavioral interview process. They provide specific questions and probes for the behaviors of a competency. In addition, positive and negative behavioral indicators are listed that will help evaluate the candidate’s responses. While the process described below is designed for multiple interviewers seeing each candidate, it can be completed with only one interviewer.

What is included in a Guide

An interview guide is available for each of the competencies in the Workitect Competency Library/Dictionary . Each guide contains a cover page with tips for conducting an effective interview with a candidate by including “What to Do”:

  1. Prior to the Interview
  2. During the Interview
  3. Following the Interview

Each interview guide then provides the competency definition and behaviors associated with the competency, followed by potential behavioral-based questions and probes for the competency. In addition, positive and negative behavioral indicators are listed to help the interviewer evaluate the candidate’s responses. Finally, the guides provide for space for the interviewer to take notes and provide an overall rating of the candidate.

Selecting Competencies for the Interview

If you have identified competencies for the job being interviewed for using the Workitect Competency Dictionary, determine which competencies you want to assess in the interview process. Usually, only a subset of the total number of competencies for a job is used in an interview – the most critical. There are two “schools of thought” when it comes to which competencies each interviewer assesses. Each interviewer can assess different competencies or multiple interviewers can assess same competencies. The decision depends on how many interviewers there are, how many competencies will be assessed for in the interview, and the preference of the organization.

If you have not identified competencies for the job being interviewed for, look at the key roles and responsibilities of the job (i.e. job description) and identify the critical requirements to the success of the job. Then, using the Workitect Competency Dictionary or another generic dictionary, select those competencies that best match up with those critical requirements based on the definition of the competency and its behaviors.

Conducting the Interview

Prior to the interview:
  • Review the candidate’s resume.
  • Review the assigned the competency(s) and the behaviors that comprise each competency.
  • Select the specific questions you feel comfortable asking each candidate. Note: Not all the questions need to be used – select at least two questions.

During the interview:

  • Greet the candidate and spend a few minutes building rapport; talk about areas the candidate is interested in.
  • Transition into the formal interview.
  • Ask the selected questions and use follow-up probes to get complete examples of the:
    • Situation that the candidate encountered;
    • Actions that the candidate took;
    • Results or outcome of the actions taken.
  • Give the candidate time to think about past examples/experiences when answering the questions.
  • Ideally get at least 2-3 examples for each question.
  • Use the guide to take notes and evaluate the candidate.

Following the interview:

  • Check off appropriate behavioral indicators and summarize key observations and notes. Rate the candidate on each assigned competencies in the space provided at the bottom of each page.
  • Note any observations for competencies not assigned and be prepared to discuss.
  • After completing, interviewers should meet to discuss and reach consensus on the final ratings for each candidate and complete the Candidate Interview Summary.
  • Make the hiring decision.

DOWNLOAD AN INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR THE COMPETENCY OF “INITIATIVE”.

Learn more about Competency Interview Guides for 35 competencies.

Structured Event Interviews are also used to collect data in step 3 of Workitect’s competency modeling process, as taught in the Workitect Building Competency Models workshop.

Ed Cripe is President of Workitect, Inc., the leader in the development of job competency models and competency-based talent management applications.

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About Edward Cripe

Ed has over thirty-five years of experience helping companies effectively utilize their organizational and human resources. His experience includes senior consultant roles with Merit Group, Inc., Kaset International/Achieve Global and McBer/Hay Group, plus corporate positions as director, training, organization development and quality for Ryder System and director, human resource consulting, training and organization development for the Bendix Corporation (now Honeywell International). He also worked for NASA as a Presidential Interchange Executive. Co-author of “The Value-Added Employee”. Ed holds a M.B.A. degree in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior from Indiana University and has completed doctoral level studies at the University of Michigan.

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