We talked to Anki Stafwerfeldt from recruitment consultancy firm Home of Recruitment and co-author of “Rekryteringsboken för chefer (Eng: The manager's guide to recruitment)”. Anki is one of the most influential advocates of the competency-based way of recruiting in Sweden and has been practicing the method for 10+ years.
Generally, Anki describes the competency-based approach as a safe handrail to hold on to when recruiting to ensure that the process is professional and that everyone is treated equally. The problem, Anki says, is that most people are intuitive and often fail at keeping irrelevant factors out by getting to know the candidate on a private level rather than a professional.
These are her 5 top do’s and don’ts when it comes to competency-based recruiting
1. Take your time and base the recruitment process on a well-formulated list of requirements which should always be a part of the job description. Start by defining what the core requirements are that will lead to immediate rejection if missing and then build out a prioritized list of requirements (eg. experience, knowledge, personal competencies) that are agreed upon by all stakeholders. Know that it’s the job description that will decide both the process and ultimately who you will hire.
Having a well-defined list will make it easier to focus on the right candidate for the right reasons. The list can be consulted throughout the entire process and be used as an argument for or against individual candidates.
2. Use a competency framework to define personal competencies and traits. For example: What do we as a company mean by the competency structured and what questions do we use to evaluate this competence?
To get a coherent understanding of the competencies that the company values. By creating and following a comprehensive and clear set of criteria each candidate can be evaluated objectively. Everyone involved in the recruitment should use this framework to make the process is structured and equal.
3. Make a definite time plan that is understood by all stakeholders. For example:
- When will each step take place?
- Who will be conducting the interviews and when?
- Who is responsible for meeting the deadline?
Things always take longer when there’s no time pressure involved. The process will be considerably easier when all activities are well planned, have an assigned responsible and a clear deadline.Plus, by communicating a clear plan to the candidate, they are less likely to drop out early.
4. A structured and competency-based approach should always permeate the process from start to finish. Every candidate must be met by the exact same process to ensure intact objectivity.
Start by deciding which competencies are important (see point 1), use screening questions that are connected to the list of requirements, and finally use the competency-based framework for reference when choosing questions (STAR-type) in the interview. Make sure everyone involved in the recruitment work is using the same methods.
Working competency-based is proven to have high validity in determining who is the right candidate for the job, reduce bias, and ensure a good candidate experience. Being structured throughout the process decreases the risks of collecting different information from different candidates, which is a far too common mistake.
5. Always start with evaluating the most important aspects first.
If, for example, a certificate, education, or a specific trait is of utmost importance, always confirm this early on to waste as little time as possible, both for you and the candidate.
1. Do not overcomplicate the application process. Think the process through from the candidate’s perspective and if you are uncertain about what you are evaluating in some step, don't be afraid to remove it from the process. Always remember that you are representing the workplace when leading the interview.
You do not want to discourage anyone from applying due to excessive information needs, poor UX, or a lengthy process. Remember, it could be your dream candidate dropping out.
2. Do not ask the candidates about private life, interests, age, or photos. Always encourage the candidate NOT to hand in a cover letter, along with their application.
Things that are irrelevant to the competency of the candidate will only lead to increased bias and a poor evaluation. Show the candidate that you are professional in your work and vary of your own biases.
3. Refrain yourself from stepping away from the set structure and do not adapt the process to the candidate.
When stepping away from the structure that has been agreed upon you are inviting your gut feelings to get in the way of making sound and objective decisions.
4. Don’t forget that part of the job as a recruiter is to sell the job to the candidate and get her/him excited about it. Remember, the decision is both yours and the candidates’. That said, don’t oversell the position, be frank about what tasks the role includes and what the challenges are.
By giving a positive and fair description of the job, you increase the chances of getting accepted if you do make an offer. By also being honest about the challenges and day-to-day tasks, you set the expectations on the right level and reduce the chances of a faulty hire due to misinterpreted expectations.
5. Don’t forget to listen
Interviewing is all about listening. A good role of thumb is to spend 75% of the interview listening and 25% talking and leading the interview in the right direction. That said, if the candidate goes off-topic, you as a recruiter need to step in and steer the interview back in the right direction.