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Competency Based Interviewing - CBI

A reference guide - 2009


Typical recruitment methods Interviews are widely used in the selection process and tend to be based on a single scale of personality assessment using a CV and/or application form. Whilst there are a wide range of tools which may be used to distinguish between candidates, interviews remain the most common and the interview process is expected by both candidates and potential employers. This is because as well as providing information to predict performance, interviews give an opportunity for the candidate and potential employer to meet face to face and exchange information. A poorly conducted interview may leave the candidate with an unfavourable impression of the company that they are likely to share with other potential applicants and customers. Potential problems with the typical interview There are limitations to the traditional interview - information is gathered from the interview in a relatively unsystematic manner and judgements may be made on candidates for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons as to why the traditional interview has been criticised: Self fulfilling prophecy effect Potential employers may ask questions designed to confirm initial impressions of candidates gained either before the interview or in its early stages The stereotyping effect Potential employers sometimes assume that particular characteristics are typical of members of a particular group. In the case of sex, race, disability, marital status or ex offenders, decisions made on this basis are often illegal The halo and horns effect Potential employers sometimes rate candidates as good or bad based on one defining comment and therefore reach unbalanced decisions The contrast effect Potential employers can allow the experience of interviewing one candidate to effect the way they interview others who are seen later in the selection process The similar-to-me effect Potential employers sometimes give preference to candidates who they perceive as having a similar background, career history, personality or attitudes to themselves. The personal liking effect Potential employers may make decisions on the basis of whether they personally like or dislike the candidate

Predicting perfect performance A range of different methods can be used to assess candidates such as an in tray exercise, a role play, a presentation and work sampling. These vary in their reliability as illustrated by Saville and Holdsworths diagram below: Towards perfect prediction Assessment centres Ability tests/group exercises Structured application forms Competency Based Interviewing/in tray exercises Cut off point .. 1.00 0.65 0.32 0.30 0.13 0.00

Typical employment interview (single scales of personality) Graphology/astrology/phrenology Random prediction

Companies are now using more methods when recruiting e.g. assessment centres, group exercises and Competency Based Interviewing (CBI). The more methods that are used the better chance an employer has in predicting how the candidate will perform in the job:

Impact of poor selection An increase in staff turnover New starters depart in the first 6 months Cost of recruiting, inducting and training new starters Claims for unfair selection Risk of employment tribunal

Advantages of competency frameworks What is a competency? A competency is defined as the behaviours that employees must have, or must acquire in order to achieve high levels of performance. Competencies are a signal from the company to the individual of the expected areas and levels of performance. They provide the individual with an indication of the behaviours that will be valued, recognised and rewarded. What is a competency framework? A competency framework consists of both behavioural and technical elements. When putting together a competency framework it is really important to limit the amount of competencies for each role, typically aiming for no more than 12 and arranging them into clusters to make the framework more accessible. The framework should contain definitions and/or examples of each competency. It is critical that the framework must have the correct level of detail. If a framework is too general it will not provide enough guidance either to the employees as to what is expected of them or to managers who are assessing their staff against the framework. However, if the framework is too detailed then the entire process becomes time consuming and may lose credibility. Typical competency headings would be, for example, Effective Communication Relationship Building Organisational Skills Leading Others Development

Creating a competency framework Competency frameworks can be developed in a number of ways, however, OA Executive put together their competency framework through the use of an internal project team within Organisational Development. The team used a methodology called Job Analysis and Competency Design (JACD). This consisted of speaking directly with the job holders to examine the behaviours they exhibit when performing their job and also used a special method to allow staff to think about how their peers behave when performing their job roles. This information was then grouped together to come up with common themes i.e. competencies. Strengths of a competency based system Employees have set objectives to work towards and are clear about how they are expected to perform their jobs Recruitment systems are fairer and more open There is a link between organisational and personal objectives Processes are measurable and standardised across organisational and geographical boundaries

Criticisms of a competency based system They capture the past and are therefore out of date They cannot keep up to date with the fast changing world They are not user friendly Everyone may be expected to act in the same way, producing clones

What is a Competency Based Interview? Competency Based Interviewing, also known as CBI, is a style of interviewing used to ensure that a candidate can best show how they demonstrated certain behaviours/skills in the workplace by answering questions about how they have reacted to and dealt with previous situations. It is an evidence based interviewing technique which examines specific examples of what a candidate can do, the questions look at how your candidate has reacted to and dealt with previous workplace situations to paint a picture of where their real skills lie. The interview questions are carefully designed to probe specific skills, competencies and characteristics. By using past experience a potential employer can predict future behaviour by: Eliminating misunderstanding Preventing personal impressions Reducing the candidates ability to fake it Benefits of a Competency Based Interview Targets behaviours, knowledge and motivations that lead to success within the job Consistent standard for evaluating and systematic method for making decisions Builds rapport with the candidate Enables interviewer to probe effectively Positively impacts on the bottom line therefore increasing retention, quality of staff, return on investment, improved results Prevents personal impression and eliminates misunderstandings Provides a systematic method for making decisions on each candidate Reduces the candidates ability to lie Excellent sales tool to offer-out candidates to clients Allows the interviewer to effectively gather information to form the basis of your call when speccing the candidate out Allows the candidate to accurately demonstrate their capabilities irrespective of the length of experience they may have An excellent way of offering equal opportunities to all candidates

STAR model To prepare for a competency based interview, the potential employer would firstly review the job description carefully and identify the skills and traits likely to be assessed. They would need to ask the candidate to identify some situations and experiences that they can refer to in order for them to demonstrate these skills and traits. The STAR methodology as shown below is often used to provide the interviewer a defined structure to conduct the interview. Situation Identifying an example/scenario Task Outlining the tasks (objectives) involved Action Assessing what actions were taken to achieve the objectives Result Probing the outcome

Sample STAR questions CBI is looking for past examples and real life situations. Give the candidate plenty of time of think of good examples and spend enough time ensuring you have a specific situation. Here are some competency based questions based on an example Planning and Organising competency: S T A R Highlight a time when you had to achieve a task/project within a certain timescale? What were you trying to achieve? What was your objective? How did you go about it? What were your specific duties? What obstacles did you have to overcome? What was the outcome? From what you learnt, what have you since put into practice?

Example CBI document Appendix 1 is an example of an Office Angels CBI document. For example purposes only, we have only provided one competency out of a possible 10.

Appendix 1 Organisational Capability Able to develop and manage core processes and systems to support business activity 1. Highlight a time when you had to achieve a task/project within a certain timescale? Probes: Why was it time bound? How realistic were the timescales? What did you do to ensure the deadlines were met? What contingencies did you build in incase timescales were not met? Who else did you need to involve? How did you motivate them to achieve within the same timescales? What was the result? 2. Give me an example of a time when you had to change your planned day to cope with an unexpected task/piece of work? Probes: What was your original course of action? How did that change? What was your first reaction to that change? How did you adjust your plans? What extra work was required? What difficulties did you face? How did you overcome them? What was the final result? 3. Give me an example of a time when you needed to plan your time and that of others carefully to achieve a result. Probes: Why was achieving the result important? How did you go about it? How did the other individuals respond? What kind of adjustments did you need to make to ensure you got it all done? What timescales were you working to? How realistic were they? How could you have managed your time better? What was the result? Interview Notes S T A R Interview Notes S T A R