Core elements of HR competency questions
Competency based interviews are considered a standard interview technique in today’s selection processes since their introduction in the late 1980s. At their heart is the premise that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour and interviewers specifically measure responses against a role’s competency framework to ascertain a candidate’s suitability.
In HR the extensive experience you gain on the interviewer’s side of the table ensures you become highly skilled in posing those probing questions to establish a candidate’s capabilities and suitability for a particular role, but sitting in the spotlight yourself can be another matter. You are under its glare with your experience and skills being taken out and scrutinised in the light for a role that you really want; it’s a daunting prospect regardless of your level of seniority.
Competencies range widely dependent on company identify, however the current school of thought as promulgated by leading HR thinker Professor Dave Ulrich of the University of Michigan details a competency model with six core elements relevant specifically to the HR function:
- Strategic Positioner: Successful HR professionals have extensive knowledge of their external marketplace along with external and internal business trends. They are able to contextualise these and transform them into strategic responses that provide a framework in which the business can make tactical decisions. (Think along the lines of Alan Jones from Dragons Den).
- Credible Activist: To be an effective HR professional you must be a “credible activist” in building relationships and generating trust through commercial acumen. “HR professionals who are credible but not activists are admired, but do not have much impact. Those who are activists but not credible may have good ideas, but not much attention will be given to them.”1 (Margaret Thatcher was perhaps the ultimate Credible Activist.)
- Capability Builder: A capability is often described as a business identity, culture or process. An HR professional should aid in establishing and defining their business capabilities, ultimately reflecting the entrenched values of the whole. (Anita Roddick for example embodied the true values of the Body Shop brand.)
- Change Champion: One of the most widely advocated competencies, an HR professional’s capacity to initiate and integrate sustainable, valuable change is highly valued. “HR professionals help change happen at institutional (changing patterns), initiative (making things happen) and individual (enabling personal change) levels.”2 (Most definitely has to be Richard Branson.)
- HR Innovator and Integrator: A broad knowledge of established HR practices and employment law ensures an effective HR professional can innovate and integrate practices into cohesive solutions that resolve future business challenges. (Steve Jobs was the fore runner of innovation in recent times.)
- Technology Proponent: Technology has insinuated its way into all aspects of our lives and “in recent years, technology has changed the ways in which HR people think.”3 Not just in relation to the manner in which administrative work is carried out, but also strategic planning and relationship building need to be considered in a technological light. (In a business environment, no one has done more in integrate up to date technology than Bill Gates.)