Competency-based unbiased recruitment – this is how it works

We fight unconscious bias and challenge preconceived opinions and gut feeling.

There are roughly two ways of recruiting new employees after screening has whittled the field down to a reasonable number of candidates. Either you go on your gut feeling and keep your fingers crossed for it to be right, or you use the knowledge and facts available to match the needs with the skills on offer. We firmly believe in the latter option and are proud to work with competency-based recruitment.

The meaning of competency-based recruitment can be seen in the name. The most important aspect is that the competence required must be clearly defined, and then this definition kept in mind throughout the recruitment – from the needs analysis, through the selection process including interviews and reference taking, until the final evaluation – without being distracted by other factors.

"The purpose is to thoroughly assess which candidate actually has the best possibility of succeeding in the new role."

At TNG we focus on the following: what are the personal qualities, experience and knowledge that the new employee must have to succeed in this position? We focus on nothing else. We do everything to avoid subjective opinions. We work in this way with both recruitment and staffing.

På TNG ser vi på kompetens som något som utgörs av fyra delar

At TNG we see competency as made up of four components:

  • Knowledge and experience
  • Talent
  • Personality
  • Motivation

In order to find the candidate with the greatest potential, we make an analysis to determine which competencies are critical to success in the role. We then weight the selected competencies and use the selection methods that best measure potential and future work performance.

All focus is on competence

When setting up the requirement profile, we rank the various relevant competencies. This ranking then governs how the interview template is designed, in which standardized questions are determined by scientifically proven methods and linked to the desired qualities.

The latest research shows that an overly structured interview can have a negative effect on the personal assessment. Therefore, we use a semi-structured interview, that is, a structured interview where the interviewer asks different follow-up questions depending on the candidate’s answer. However, in order to make the right assessment, this approach requires a great deal of experience in managing interview situations.

How do you make the right choice?

The same principle applies when collecting references as when conducting interviews – a strict focus on the necessary competencies. When we later reach the final assessment, we have clear and straightforward material on which to base our decision. So we don’t risk unconsciously comparing apples and oranges. Each candidate is scrutinized from exactly the perspective relevant to the position in question. More than 15 years of research show that the methods we use have the most accuracy, and we are constantly refining them.

It’s always a good idea to continuously be reexamining the efficiency and reliability of our methods. This is how science works: constantly adjusting the theory when new data is available. But one thing is quite clear: The usual methods that rely heavily on references, previous professional experience and number of years of education show a large margin of error.

Malin Lindelöw is a PhD student in psychology and has written the book Competency-based Personnel Strategy (Kompetensbaserad Personalstrategi), which contains a summary of the validity of different methods, that is: how well they anticipate the recruited person’s performance in the new role. This ability is indicated by a value between 0-1. 0 means that there is no connection at all between the choice of method and the actual performance. 1 is an ideal perfect foresight, which is never achieved in practice.

There is, in other words, no method that is completely reliable. Many lie somewhere between perfect and chance, and some are much closer to chance. One must therefore understand how the different methods work, and why. Then you realize that they all have their limitations. None of them suffice on their own, and they should all be seen as tools to be used in combination. We get the best results in that way, and when used correctly they provide very useful support.

Hur gör man ett fördomsfritt och kompetensbaserat urval?

Competency-based recruitment is increasingly common

It’s often a big and rather frightening step to deviate from what has long been regarded as the accepted way of doing this but once you’ve taken the step, the many benefits quickly become apparent. In fact, everything indicates that competency-based recruitment is becoming increasingly more common and more important, since having the right person in the right place is ever more decisive to a company or organization’s ability to successfully hold its own. In the United States, for one, the evolution is clearly moving towards recognizing the importance of treating all candidates equally and focusing strictly on the required and assessable skills.