Ask competency questions on the application, not at interviews

Food for thought for ‘big organisation’ interviewers/recruiters

Competency questions are ineffective during job interviews. This results in a) bad use of your time when trying to assess candidates and b) stopping you from selecting the best candidates.

By asking competency questions at interview, you are assessing the following:

  1. How well can the candidate predict the competency questions I’m going to ask?
  2. How well has he or she memorised their answers/examples?
  3. How much time has the candidate put into preparing for the interview?

I believe that none of these are relevant assessments of how effective a candidate will be in an actual role.

Don’t get me wrong, competency questions are a great way to learn about the relevant skills, experiences and behaviours a candidate possesses. That’s why you should ask them on an application form. But keep them there. Don’t carry them over into in-person interviews.

Instead, I propose that you ask more of your competency questions on the written application form to learn about your candidates en-masse. Then, you do not need to interview as many, as you can eliminate more in advance. This in turn allows you to interview successful candidates for longer and get to know them as individuals. If you can get to know a candidate’s individual motivations and values, you are far more likely to select more effectively.

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