5 tools for assessing competencies in recruiting – an overview and recommendations from HR-PRACTICE

How to assess employee competence

If you have worked with a colleague, manager, or subordinate for six months or a year or more and had the opportunity to observe his work, the statistics of your observations will allow you to give a reasonable assessment of his competence.

It is unlikely that any other assessment tool will provide the same reliable result – it is difficult to disagree with the logic of the statement “it is better to see once than hear a hundred times”.

For more information on an example of formalizing such an assessment, see the article Case on assessing competencies with a tool from HR-PRACTICE.

How to Assess Applicant Competencies

In the same way, we assess the competence of an employee. The logic of assessing applicants is no different from the logic of assessing the competencies of employees, whose work we could observe.

The only difference is that, firstly, our observation time is limited by the time frame of the selection procedure, and secondly, as a rule, we do not have the opportunity to observe the work of the applicant.

Therefore, we evaluate what we can “see once” and try, if not “a hundred times”, but “hear” about the manifestations of those competencies, the level of development of which we want to assess.

To “hear” we:

  • we ask the applicant to tell us about the work situations he faced in his previous jobs;
  • ask how he will act in the new place of work in situations that he has not previously encountered;
  • checking recommendations – asking questions to the referrer.

To “see” the applicant in the process of work, we can:

  • invite him to perform test tasks that simulate work tasks;
  • offer to undergo an internship, during which an experienced employee will evaluate his competence.

    Recruitment Résumé Business process Letter, Business, text, human Resource Management, resume png | PNGWing

Checklist of Assessment Tools

So, to collect and analyze the information necessary and sufficient for assessing competencies, we can use the following tools:

  • test tasks
  • cases
  • skills interview
  • internship

The possibilities of using and the effectiveness of the application of these tools are determined by the content of the work and the specifics of the assessed competencies.

How to use competency assessment tools correctly

Test tasks

For affirmative answers to the questions “Do you know how to work with pivot tables?” and “Can you correspond in English?” you will hardly be able to judge whether the applicant has the relevant competencies.

But you will be able to accurately assess the level of their development if the application processes the data array in MS Excel or writes a business letter in English.

You will see “live” how he solves the problems he will face in the process of work – this will significantly increase the accuracy of your assessment. By the way, do not forget that psychological tests do not apply to competency assessment tools – more about their use in article 8 reasons not to use psychological tests when recruiting personnel


Cases are test items that simulate work situations an applicant may encounter. “What will you do if” … followed by an introduction.

Often, the case studies assess not the correctness of the solution, but the logic used to find it, and the actions that the applicant will take to cope with the task.

And, even though the work situation is “played out” in test mode, you can guess how the applicant will behave in a real work situation. The case solution can add to the “observation statistics” and then be used to assess competencies.

Interview Cartoon png download - 1800*1800 - Free Transparent Recruitment png Download. - CleanPNG / KissPNG

Skills interview

The main task of the interview is to find in the applicant’s experience confirmation that he has the competencies necessary for successful work. When an applicant tells you about work situations, how he acted in them, what decisions he made, what difficulties he faced, and how he overcame them, then you, even from his words, but get an idea of ​​his actions and behavior.

And even if you haven’t seen everything yourself and don’t know the details, this information is very important.

Do not hesitate to update the information if the answers to your questions seem incomplete or insufficiently informative to you.

It is not necessary to strictly follow the instructions for conducting a competency interview using the CARE, PARLA, or STAR techniques, the main thing is to remember that the purpose of the interview is to collect the “observation statistics” you need to evaluate.

Internship/probationary period

Don’t think that a hiring decision saves you the trouble of evaluating a job seeker who has become an employee. You have a great opportunity to watch how it works and make the final decision at the end of the internship or probationary period.

Just don’t forget what exactly you planned to evaluate when testing a new employee, and set the correct task for the person who will be entrusted with assessing the competence of a newcomer after the end of the internship/probationary period.

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