How are competency-based job profiles used in HR?

August 15, 2016 Mirette Sedarous

Competency-based job profiles are versatile, foundational tools for managing talent. But how do you leverage them effectively to recruit, assess, and develop your employees?

In the previous week’s blog post, we looked at how to create competency-based job profiles and examined several options to fit different budgets and organizational objectives.

But once you’ve put job profiles in place, how do you use them? This week, we look at some of the most beneficial ways to use job profiles enhance several HR activities.

Improve job ads and postings

Job ads and postings are one of the first points of contact between your organization and potential candidate. Unfortunately, these critical recruitment tools are often vaguely worded and do a poor job of attracting the right talent.

Using competency-based job profiles instead of traditional job descriptions provides greater detail and clarity and gives potential candidates a more accurate sense of what’s actually expected on the job.

For example, a typical job description might specify that applicants “must be client-focused”—but how is that quality being defined? How does the candidate know that they are truly able to deliver on the job requirements?

By comparison, a competency-based job profile will provide as many as five behavioral indicators, such as “pushes clients to consider difficult issues that are in their best interests,” and “acts as a seasoned adviser, providing independent opinions on complex client problems,” which clearly define the requirement in concrete terms.

Improve interviewing practices

Because competency-based job profiles articulate the behaviors of those who achieve success in a specific position, they can be converted into interview questions that effectively identify a candidate’s ability to perform job. Behavior-based questions are rapidly becoming an interviewing best practice; research published in the Journal of Occupational Studies and Personnel Studies confirms that behavioral questions outperform situational questions in identifying successful candidates.

To leverage the job profile as an interviewing tool, simply use the behavioral indicators as the basis for interview questions. Let’s take the example of a job profile for a client service manager, which includes the “client focus” competency at level 3. One of the behavioral indicators at this level is: “looks for ways to add value beyond the client’s immediate requests,” which can be turned into a question with the formula: “Can you give me an example of a time when… you looked for ways to add value beyond the client’s immediate requests?”

Alternatively, if you purchase pre-configured competency-based job profiles from HRSG, you can add an interview package that includes a set of primary and “probe” questions aligned to the profile’s behavioral indicators.

Use job profiles to guide development opportunities

Competency-based job profiles can also be used as the basis for development programs. This activity can be more time- and resource-intensive than leveraging job profiles as recruitment or interviewing tools, but it’s one that can yield significant rewards.

By aligning formal, informal, and on-the-job learning opportunities with the behavioral indicators for each competency in the job profile, your organization can give employees a clear learning path to target any shortcomings in their current job, strengthen their performance, or prepare for the challenge of a new position.

Using the “client focus” example again, the HR team could explore a range of learning opportunities, such as formal mentorships, on-the-job learning opportunities, online courses, and even business books, that support the level 3 behavioral indicators.

As a first step in the process, consider using HRSG’s on-the-job learning opportunities, which are aligned to the behavioral indicators for pre-configured job profiles.

Job profiles bring clarity and consistency to the full range of HR activities, but recruitment and development are two excellent places to get started. Whether you opt for HRSG’s ready-to-use interviewing and development supports or decide to develop your own, start slowly, focus on one area of HR, and get comfortable with the new approach before moving on to other phases of the talent-management lifecycle.

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