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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Making Your Competency Models Useful: Recruitment

Disclaimer: This post will not teach you how to create competency models... I'll probably have that in the future... probably...

You probably heard and read about it. You got interested, studied how to do it, it looked fairly easy so you created your own models for the employees in your company, and then, and then what???

You wanted to use it for your recruitment but you don't know how. You wanted to use is for your human resource development initiatives, and you still don't know how. You wanted to use it for performance management but, yes, you don't know how. So The competency model that you made just became part of the job description and not much else. That is of course not what you want. You want your painstakingly made competency models to be just beyond additional kilobytes in your computer or extra folders in your files. This is going to be a big topic so I'm going to have a series of post on this subject matter starting with recruitment, and then training, and then performance, and who knows what else.

The beauty of having a competency model is that you get a fairly clear idea of what you are looking for in an employee. You know what kind of knowledge good candidates should possess, what kind of positive behavioral attributes they should manifest and what type skills they should be able to demonstrate. Creating the model is actually the easy part. You of course did not create your model just to have a more comprehensive and cool looking job ad. You need something more, you need something to determine that the people you are looking to hire match your requirements and that's the hard part.

The first thing to do is to identify, search and check out tools you can use to test the aptitudes and personal attributes you require. I've always believed that there are things you cannot gauge just by merely interviewing people. Some really good workers suck during interview, so while I believe they are useful, we shouldn't be overly reliant on them. Here are some tools that I've used and at least saw in the past:

Harrison Innerview
Philpsycor - can provide you with paper based testing tools

If any of you readers know good or better screening tools provider, I'll be as interested to know, so leave web address on the comment section.

Problem with a lot of candidates applying for managerial position is that they find the tests insulting, it's up to you to convince them that this is necessary.

If technical competencies are important to you, I suggest that you put together some kind of technical test to assess the level of proficiency of your candidate to prevent you from being duped by smooth-talking, know-nothing candidates. I often ask hiring managers to provide me this because I often cannot possibly make one.

Competency-based behavioral interviewing. They say that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior... more or less. So what does one recruitment professional do in order to have a decent behavior/competency-based interview? Ask questions that will allow them to recall specific experiences where certain competencies were demonstrated. For example, if you are figuring out if the person can handle customer complaints with some coolness, you might want to ask the candidate to tell you about a specific situation in the past when she had to deal with a very angry customer and ask how she acted. If the candidate did not have that kind of experience, she will give you a conceptual answer like "I have always treated my customers well. I believe that when a customer is angry, it is for a good reason, and my job is to fully understand where the customer is coming from so I can provide her that kind of service she deserves." Cool answer but not spot on. Don't get misled, you are looking for an answer that starts with a time frame. "It happened last year, and this is what I did, and this is what happened..." You can gauge by how the person responded to that situation if she is the person you are looking for or not.

The trick is to prepare your behavior/competency-based interview questions well ahead of time. Don't wing it, you'll regret forgetting to ask the questions that really matter especially if you have memory gaps like me... What am I doing here? See?

Gate-keeping is an important HR responsibility and having a properly designed competency model can help you in this job. Using your models to design a focused search and screen strategy will help you prevent undesirable individuals from getting into your organization.

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