Competencies – What Are They

Hiring by competencies will encompass everything you need in terms of skill, behaviors and abilities. Competencies are transferrable to different environments, situations and problems, and point to superior performance and continuous improvement.

So what is exactly is a competency?

The word is often used interchangeably with skill or behavior, both of which are not quite correct. So let me start with what it is not.

Competency is not skill

A skill is a learned ability. It produces a consistent result and can be taught from scratch.

It is easy (ish) to prove as it has this specified result, generally steps to achieve said result, and generally includes things.

Competency is not a behavior

Behavior is how one conducts himself or herself. In essence behavior is made up of actions and mannerisms.

This combination describes a person’s behavior.

Back to competencies

A competency is a combination of abilities and attitudes.

It is not correct to say that it is simply a combination of skill and behavior. Rather, competencies include elements of both abilities and attitudes, with a smattering of knowledge; dare I say even wisdom.

If a skill or behavior can allow a person to be efficient, competence is what makes a person effective. The correct abilities are clustered together to create a successful outcome.

How it applies to hiring

Define the competencies required to be successful in your workplace, taking into account your clients, other employees, company goals and company values. Then insert these as requirements when evaluating candidates.

To make this simple, I divide competencies into two lists: Basic and Professional, allowing my clients to identify the traits of greatest importance to their needs.


If you can’t wait for next week’s posts explaining Basic and Professional Competencies, contact me to find out how this approach can help your business