Improving the Bottom Line: Competency-Based Assessments

Hiring‘Interviewing and Hiring 101’ is a resource for interviewing and hiring industry best practices. We developed this series with the goal of providing you with the necessary tools to Hire Better, Engage Employees, and more importantly, Improve the Bottom Line. In an attempt to keep this forum open we would like to invite you to provide feedback through our @Hire4Impact feed on Twitter.

We’ve talked about the many uses and benefits of competency-based assessments; but our conversation has been limited almost to pre-hire assessments. Specifically, how defining competencies can help us identify the top-performing candidates. We’ve also briefly touched on how these assessments can help us lay out training and development plans for our talent. That being said, how else can we use competencies in our organizations today?

According to Matthew Such, Chief Scientist at First Advantage, while there are many organizations using assessments as pre-hire tools; we are seeing other organizations using competencies (and other assessment tools) in a more sophisticated manner – succession planning and leadership development. Post-Hire competency-based assessments often rely on open-ended questions or scenarios that gauge a candidate’s thinking and reasoning ability outside of the normal parameters of pre-hire assessments. For example, let’s assume that your organization is looking to fill a leadership position from within. To that end, you have identified the basic competencies (benchmarked the required inherent talents, acquired learning and behaviors) necessary for the position. Once you have identified the potential candidates, it’s time to implement post-hire assessments, using those open-ended questions/scenarios to test how they respond to those situations – are they leadership material? As we mentioned in a previous article, these scenarios will give better, unbiased results as the are more difficult to study and/or manipulate.

If this is the case, they why are we not seeing more organizations using post-hire assessments for their leadership development/succession planning? Apart from cost, we speculate, that it comes down to a convenience factor. Its simpler for organizations to rely on annual performance reviews. Granted, they have their uses, but performance reviews don’t provide the full picture in terms of identifying training and development needs.

How else can we use assessment data?

Not only do these tools help us identify top talent, assess training needs, or help us craft development plans, but assessments can help organizations learn:

  • the competitiveness of their employer brand;

  • which recruiting sources are providing the best candidates; and

  • whether or not they have the right talent to fulfil organization goals.

As we mentioned before, there is no one tool that does it all (at least not yet), but make sure that you are using an approved and validated tool. Although we’d love to carry on about assessments (and we could), its time to wrap up. Before we do that though, let’s quickly recap the benefits associated with competency-based assessments:

  1. allows for objectivity and removes bias throughout the hiring process.

  2. Streamlines the hiring process thus saving you time and money.

  3. Improve the quality of hires and reduce turnover

  4. assists organizations in crafting insightful interview questions.

  5. Create training and development plans for your talent that align with company goals.


VisionSpark is the Talent Planning and Retained Executive Search Firm of Alec Broadfoot and Adam McCampbell. For more news and updates on hiring and training, follow the conversation at @Hire4Impact or like us on Facebook.