Competencies across the talent lifecycle

March 12, 2015 Sarah Beckett

One of the great advantages of multi-level competencies is their ability to create greater consistency and continuity across the talent lifecycle—from hiring to career progression to succession planning.

Let’s take a closer look at the way competencies can be applied to each phase of this lifecycle.


The hiring process is more focused and productive when job profiles feature competencies, because competencies clearly communicate the ideal candidate profile to interviewers. Instead of evaluating candidates based on vague qualities—”Must be client-focused”—interviewers can ask questions that identify specific behaviors the candidate has demonstrated in prior work environments.

Competencies are particularly valuable in the interview process because they help minimize bias and enhance objectivity by setting consistent criteria by which all candidates are evaluated. CompetencyCore, HRSG’s competency management software, aligns a set of interview questions with each competency and proficiency level, so that interview guides can be easily created for any job in the organization. This is a great way to minimize the time and costs associated with the interviewing process.

Research shows that using pre-defined criteria results in a more valid selection process and a greater chance of predicting on-the-job success. A competency-based hiring process also helps organizations identify any shortcomings in the selected candidate, so that they can be supported with a focused development strategy as part of the on-boarding process.



Performance management is an essential HR function, but it’s also a sensitive and often challenging process. Multi-level competencies help to keep the discussions objective by providing a set of clearly defined and observable behaviors that are expected at different job levels or for different jobs. This helps managers to articulate any shortcomings and provide actionable feedback for employee improvement.

Competencies support any type of performance-management approach, including total, team-driven, continuous learning and coaching, and project-based performance management.



One of the biggest challenges in HR is determining the best learning resources and approaches to support employee growth. Competencies offer a framework that aligns learning resources and curricula to expected proficiency levels. Once those resources have been identified and mapped to a specific competency and proficiency level, they can be applied across the organization to any employee who needs to improve in that area. By streamlining the development process, multi-level competencies offer quick results and excellent ROI.

Competencies are particularly effective in helping organizations support the development of “soft” skills. While gaps in technical skills are generally easier to identify, soft skills—such as analytical skills, customer focus, planning and organizing, etc.—are harder to quantify. Multi-level competencies define soft skills in concrete terms, offer a clear sense of progression from basic to advanced proficiency, and help managers pinpoint and address deficiencies.



A competency-based framework gives employees the tools they need to align their skills and ambitions with the needs of the workplace. With multi-level competencies, employees can visualize their career progression, evaluate lateral or upward career opportunities, and take an active role in exploring their career potential. And because learning resources can be aligned to specific competencies and proficiency levels, employees can also see exactly what they need to do to reach the next level.


While competencies are ideal for addressing deficiencies at the employee level, they can also be used to identify organization-wide gaps in talent resources and build a more adaptable, high-performing workplace.

By placing employees on a competency continuum, and by breaking each job down into a set of competencies and proficiency levels, managers can assess the readiness of potential successors to assume leadership roles and identify departments or business areas where existing competencies or proficiencies don’t meet current or future needs. Competencies make it easier to see who could fill a specific job and how far away they are from being ready for the challenge.


Want to learn more about using competencies? Get started with our Competency Toolkit:

Download your Competency Toolkit using the form below.



Post last updated: June 26, 2019.

About the Author

Sarah Beckett

Sarah is an experienced marketer with over 12 years experience. She drives HRSG brand marketing strategy and the implementation of all related programs.

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