Hiring for any organization can be a difficult task. For small and mid-size companies, it can be even more daunting. Using an interview competency sheet allows you to identify the key skills and personality aspects you feel fit your organizational culture, and allows you to compare candidate to candidate.

At first glance, creating an interview competency sheet prior to interviewing candidates may appear to be an unnecessary hassle. On the other hand, as a hiring manager, are you really aware of all the key skills and personality attributes a new hire needs in order to fit into your organizational culture and be successful in the role? As in vendor selection, project selection, or any other business decision, a tool that allows you to manage risk is a benefit to the organization.

A simple interview competency sheet can be created by addressing these key areas:

Areas of Competency

An interview competency sheet begins with the hiring manager (or hiring team) defining the primary areas of competency. In other words, what are the tasks associated with the role? While it may be a particular technical or functional skill set you are looking for, there are likely other areas of competency such as management, business process development or auditing. Discuss these requisites and narrow the list down to 5-8 core competencies.

If you’re hiring a team of people, the list may be longer, especially if the deliverables of the new team are broad. It is important to identify the competencies, and then write a brief paragraph explaining each. This may be taken from the job description, and will likely become part of the performance plan for the new employee after hire. Spend some time on this task and be fully aware of which competencies you are looking for from the new employee.

Interviewing

With sought after competencies defined, you are already one step ahead in the interview process. Defining key competencies allows interviewers avoid the typical arbitrary question and answer process associated with interviewing. Even if you don’t have prepared interview questions, you now have a guide to direct your questions, either experiential or behavioral. The competencies can become notes for your interview questions.

Competency Evaluation

Either prior or post interview, create a table with the competencies listed in the left-hand column. You may number these for easier discussion with the interview team, but they should be limited to the defined competencies previously documented. The following two columns should be “Score” and “Notes”. For the “Score” column, rate your candidate’s interview on a scale of 1-10, or 1-3, whichever best helps you separate candidates.

Don’t compare candidates to one another just yet, but rather compare their ability to demonstrate an understanding, prior experience, and ability to succeed in the identified competencies. Add notes to justify your score. This becomes important when you are comparing candidates after the fact. Candidates may not be as memorable several days or weeks after the interview, so these notes will be more important later in the process.

Comparing Competency Evaluations

The final step is comparing the competency evaluations for each of the interviewed candidates. This is a simple, line-by-line comparison. Discuss among the team why scores were received, where strengths are observed, and identify the strongest candidate.

Once you have made a hire using this competency evaluation process, other benefits unfold. You can now take the competencies, present them to the new hire, and discuss key success factors for their first evaluation period based on the competencies identified as critical to the role. This tool can also be used to identify training needed by the new hire to ensure they are positioned to successfully deliver across all the competencies.

Photo courtesy of Julie70 via Flickr