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Competencies Assessment

Everything You Need to Know About Competency-based Assessments

By Onyeka Ndukwe on July, 29 2020
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Onyeka Ndukwe

Want to know more about competency-based assessments? Read this blog post to learn everything you need to know about competency-based assessments for your organization. 

This blog post is to help you get the best knowledge when it comes to understanding competency-based assessments. In a hurry? Jump straight to your section of interest by clicking on a link (see below).


Article table of contents (jump to a section):

1. Competency-based Assessment Definition
2. Types of Employee Assessments
3. Competency-based Assessment Sample
4. Competency-based Assessments and Employee Career Pathing
5. Competency-based Assessments and Talent Management for Your Organization
6. Benefits of Competency-based Assessments
7. Why Use Competency-based Assessment?
8. How Can Competency-based Assessment Tools Help My Organization?
9. What is a Competency-based Self-Assessment?
10. 3 Things to Remember About Competency-based Self-Assessments


Competency-based Assessment Definition

A competency-based assessment refers to any tool that is used to measure the observable behaviors that successful performers demonstrate while working on any given job. These behaviors are the result of various abilities, knowledge, motivations, traits and skills an employee may possess.

The right competency-based assessment should be based on clear job requirements and produce consistent and reliable results. This enables competency-based assessments to be an accurate predictor of overall job success.


Types of Employee Assessments

The word ‘assessment’ is considered a ‘catch-all’ term, as there are numerous different types of assessments implemented for a variety of different purposes.

Depending upon your goals, it is important to appreciate how these various employee assessments can be put to best use, learn the best practices for employee assessments as well as the benefits they provide at all stages of the talent lifecycle.

Below are the types of employee assessments which can be conducted within organizations:
  • Tests
  • Examinations
  • Structured Interviews
  • Evaluation & Feedback
  • Recognition


Competency Assessment Sample

Below is an example of a competency-based assessment sample for the Client Focus competency:

competency based assessment sample


Don't forget your free Competency Assessment Sample. Click below to access your free PDF (no information required). 

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Competency-based Assessments and Employee Career Pathing

Competency-based assessments can also reveal potential employee advancement opportunities through its evaluation of an employee’s current strengths, skill gaps and qualifications.

Such an assessment can serve as a basis for your employee career pathing plans and help your employees discover the specific details (i.e. experience, competencies, education, and more) needed for their next internal career move.

To be more specific, a proper employee career pathing solution should allow employees to target a specific career goal, see the progressions they need to get there, and access targeted learning & development plans related to those goals.

Being able to connect competencies to learning resources at the proficiency level is also a great way to support employees in developing their skills and planning their next career move within the organization (rather than at a rival company).


Competency-based Assessments and Talent Management for Your Organization

By using competency-based assessments to engage employees, your organization can prepare for filling positions internally, succession planning and creating effective inter-departmental teams.

After completing a competency-based assessment, what is your next step?

You should use the information from the assessment to now have effective talent conversations with your employees.

Here is how to handle such conversations based on the performance level of your employees:

  • For high performers: Focus on their high-performance level and how they can be a future leader within your organization. Be sure to discuss their desired development. Ensure these employees get the experience and skills they need to stay within your organization.
  • For good performers: Focus on their contributions, areas of improvement and where you (the manager) see potential for them to grow. For new employees who are expected to settle into their role quickly, it is important to identify any expected challenges and focus on the steps they should take in the short term to achieve success.
  • For poor performers: As the manager, you should discuss your concerns about their performance and why it needs to improve. Provide actionable steps for such employees so they can deliver better performance in the future.



Benefits of Competency-based Assessments

Organizations that properly use their competency-based assessment results for better planning can get the following benefits:
  • Save money on external hiring costs
  • Avoid unnecessary spending on ineffective training.
  • Create a stronger talent pipeline
  • Gain a greater understanding about the abilities of your employees


Want to learn more about competency assessments? 

Fill out the form below to access our Testing & Assessment Toolkit today!

*This toolkit collection includes our introductory guide, "Assessment 101"; real-world case studies and webinar examples; and additional blog insights and video content. 



Why Use Competency-based Assessment?

Competency-based assessments are generally useful for reliably assessing knowledge, skills, and abilities against a pre-defined standard. They are also often the basis for certification or compliance programs.

A competency-based assessment shouldn’t be seen as a one-way form of communication in which the organization gathers information about the employee’s performance or potential. It’s a two-way conversation which should hopefully provide as much insight to the assessed individual as to the manager or HR professional administering the assessment.

Such assessments can also be used for the following:
  • To test candidates during the hiring process
  • To evaluate ongoing job performance
  • To identify the next steps in an employee’s career progression

To be effective, fair, and legally defensible, assessments should be applied consistently across the organization. This involves identifying a common measurement—such as competencies —and applying that measurement to every job.

Whether your organization hires seasonally or has a regulatory responsibility to ensure the capabilities of your employees or stakeholders, competency-based assessments can help meet your needs.

The right competency assessment tool can help you screen a large number of candidates at once; it provides the potential to objectively measure an individual’s competencies, skills or knowledge. It should also give you the capability to manage and secure test questions to ensure defensibility and validity of your assessment processes.


How Can Competency-based Assessment Tools Help My Organization?

Competency assessments are a key tool to determine how an employee is performing in their current role, and how they fit with future job prospects.

An effective competency assessment tool should give you the ability to look beyond the individual and understand the makeup of your entire workforce.

By examining the competency strengths, weaknesses and gaps across the organization–or within specific divisions or groups–you can make more informed decisions regarding training initiatives, allocate resources more effectively, and align development opportunities with corporate goals.

To use competency assessments for performance or development purposes, you need to be able to measure an employee’s performance against a set benchmark, whether that is their current job or future career aspirations.

Look for an assessment tool that enables you to measure an individual’s competencies against the competency requirements for a specific job in order to identify gaps that can be addressed through targeted development activities, and strengths that would make an individual a good fit for future career progression.

You may also want the ability to assess employees against critical organizational competencies in order to evaluate the organization’s cohesiveness or its collective capacity to differentiate and compete in a crowded marketplace.

Are you looking for a competency assessment tool? Learn more about the Top 5 Things To Look For In A Competency Assessment Tool.


What is a Competency-based Self-Assessment?

A competency-based self-assessment is an employee-driven activity that allows individuals reflect on how their competencies–knowledge, skills and abilities–match up with the requirements of a specific job or a core set of organizational competencies.


3 Things to Remember About Competency-based Self-Assessments

  • Competency-based self-assessments can be used to effectively empower and engage employees who want to understand & improve their unique skill profile. It can also be used undertake development opportunities that help such employees excel in their current job or reach the next stage in their career.
  • For organizations that have developed core competencies (key competitive strengths shared by the organization and each of its employees), competency-based self-assessments can also help employees understand their value to the organization, see their role in the bigger picture, and feel connected to its success.
  • Competency-based self-assessments 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.
    • Because competencies articulate soft skills in concrete, behavioral terms, employees get a clear sense of progression from basic to advanced proficiency, and can take the initiative in developing plans to address deficiencies.



Learn More About Competency Assessments: 


Post last updated: January 8, 2021