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What are Competencies

Plum Published October 15,2014

Two candidates walk into an interview. This isn't the start of a joke, but it could be … this has a punch line.

Both have the same level of technical and management skills. The job requires mid-level project management experience (5 - 7 years), which means looking after a $5 million R&D budget, engaging with internal and external stakeholders, clients, reporting to senior regional executives once a month, and managing a team of 15 direct reports.

One is technically brilliant. Ticks all the boxes in the skills department. So does the other, but the other has better people skills, more eloquent when it comes to communication (written, verbal), handles stress more easily and more willing to take risks and experiment. An A-player in the competencies department.

The technically brilliant candidate is superior on paper.

The other performs better at interview.

Make a mistake and this could cost the company tens of millions.

Who would you hire?

Wait, before you make a decision … and here’s the punchline: the candidates are interviewed on their skills. But they’re judged on their competencies in the job.

That’s right, companies usually hire on the basis of a candidates skills, which means they look at hard skills first (‘Something you know and learn, and something “tangible”’), soft skills second. Whereas the ability to get the job done - almost any service or professional job - very much depends on soft skills, also known as competencies: ‘the effective application of skills.’

A technically brilliant project manager might be a great asset, but if he can’t manage stakeholders, build consensus, motivate direct reports, communicate a vision or work effectively with senior executives, then there’s only so much they can actually achieve.

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Competencies & Culture: The Price of Soft Skills

Neither company culture nor competencies sound like hard, tangible business skills. And yet 89% of new hires fail due to attitude, not skill. Two million staff quit every month, more often than not due to a company culture, a boss or environment which makes them uncomfortable. Soft skills that have a hard impact on the bottom line.

In our fictitious project manager example neither should be hired unless they are tested on their competencies. Surely if they are judged on them in performance reviews then a test should be put in place before either is given the job.

These can now be tested, with Plum.

Our Plum Discovery Survey highlights on a simple dashboard - using a tried and tested psychometric pre-employment assessment - a candidates competencies. The dashboard assess 10 competencies using a rating system of 0 - 100.

Our Science of Selection then matches the competencies displayed against the requirements of the job and your company culture. Soft skills can now finally be measured! You won’t have to wait months to find out whether a candidate will be good at a job; only minutes.


Topics: blog

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