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Interview Techniques You’re Forgetting: Comparing Candidates to Essential Competencies

August 27, 2013

Over the past year, I have been searching for the perfect house to buy.  I really enjoy real estate and made it my personal mission to find the perfect home!  Since I’m not in a huge hurry, I can look and look until my dream home comes on the market.  I’ve found this very similar to looking for the “perfect” candidate in the selection process.  They parallel each other quite well. 78524798

In my home search, I have a list of things that I’m looking for – a specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms, an ideal floor plan, price range and a desirable school district.  When I browse the internet or the little magazines at the front of the local diner, I have a list to which I compare all of the houses … do they fit my criteria or not?  In this process, some of the criteria are negotiable.  For example, I may settle for fewer bedrooms if there is some additional living space or maybe I don’t need two full bathrooms and just an extra powder room will do.  If it was in the perfect neighborhood and updated just as I wanted, I may be able to bend on these things.  Then there are those criteria that are non-negotiable.  Location can’t really be compromised.  If I want to live in a certain area, in a certain school district and within a certain driving distance from my work and friends, then location really isn’t something on which I can compromise.  Of course, I always seem to find that perfect house that is not quite in the right location, isn’t that how it usually works? 

It’s very similar to looking for the perfect candidate.  We first gather a list of frequent tasks performed, job duties and competencies required for successful performance in the job.  From this list, we start our hunt for that perfect candidate.  Comparing all of our applicants to these minimum qualifications, we can find a candidate who meets our requirements and start the interview process.  We refer back to our list of competencies that are necessary for successful performance in the job and ask candidates questions around each of these.  Do they have the knowledge, skills and abilities that are necessary to be successful in this job?  By comparing each candidate to the same list of competencies, we will make sure we are giving each candidate a fair and equal opportunity to prove their abilities against the required competencies.  Of course, similar to my house search, there may be some things that are negotiable and some that are not.  While it may be a bonus to find a candidate with great project management skills, that may be something that you can train them to do.  But there are going to be those things like dependability and attention to detail that may be much harder to train.  Some of those skills and traits are not so easy to teach someone and should not be compromised even if everything else seems “perfect”.  

So if you are searching for “perfect” candidate, here are a few tips you can use in the interview process:

  1. Create a list of competencies and job requirements. Identify those which are negotiable and those which are not.
  2. Ask each candidate structured behavioral interview questions around the competencies required for successful job performance.
  3. Compare your candidates to your ideal profile. Do not compromise on the essential competencies, you will regret it. Bad hires are like bad houses – not easy to live with and difficult to get rid of.

Good luck in your search for the perfect hire and wish me luck on finding that perfect house!

Interviewer Tips

Megan Why Megan Why is a Consultant located in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. Her areas of expertise include: workplace safety, interview training, and pre-employment selection assessments.