Competency based recruitment is a specific method of recruiting which involves advertising, shortlisting and interviewing against the skills, or competencies, that are required to do the job well.

In our experience there are some common reasons why small businesses struggle to find the ‘right’ candidates:

1. Insufficient time

2. Failing to spread the ‘net’ wide enough

3. Recruiting to type

4. Lack of clarity of the competences/skills and experience necessary

5. Poor knowledge of the market and salary rates etc.

Recruitment can be a time consuming and costly business – a survey conducted by Thomas International costed the management time to fill an average vacancy at £2,500 – this is an internal cost, if using a recruitment agency this can be far higher.

Competency based recruitment can help address ‘3’ and ‘4’. Under a competency based approach roles are profiled primarily in terms of the skills (competences) and experience that the role holder will need to bring to the party in order to achieve the desired outcomes of the role.

For example, if the job is a sales role, the outcomes may include 1) Develop a target list of 200 potential new clients in your first 3 months and 2) Achieve sales revenue of £300K in your first year. The competences or skills necessary to do this will vary, but may include commercial negotiating skills, influencing skills, presentation skills etc. and so the candidates previous experience of demonstrating these skills in a relevant environment should be heavily tested at interview and during referencing. The experience for this example may require at least 2 years in a sales role in a relevant industry including a mix of cold contact strategy and upselling to existing clients.

In practice most roles are easily definable using this approach:

1. What are the key outcomes we expect from this role within defined time scales?

2. What skills are necessary to deliver those outcomes?

3. What essential previous experience must the person have?

Armed with this information we should then be able to define relevant interview questions and tests. A typical interview process should expect to cover 6 – 10 competences across 3 interviews – a telephone interview and 2 X face to face sessions. Thorough reference interviewing with 3 or 4 work referees should finally confirm whether the individual is likely to succeed in the role we’re recruiting for.

There are 50 – 60 core competences spanning most roles, and of course there may also be specifics for unique positions. Against each competency is a menu of question templates, which may need to be adapted for particular role contexts.

Your myhrdept HR adviser will be happy to talk you through the competency profiling technique and help you profile your first couple of roles.

Addressing ‘2’ (spreading the net) and ‘5’ (market knowledge) could be as simple as spending an hour or two on-line. Where are these types of jobs mainly being advertised? Are there other job titles that might be relevant for the same role (HR Adviser – HR Officer – HR Manager – ER Manager etc.) What salaries/benefits are other employers paying?

Many small employers still rely on local press for advertising and whilst this might sometimes be appropriate an on-line strategy is often advised, and can sometimes be much more efficient and cost effective.

If despite your new found recruitment strategy you don’t have the time to carry out the initial (and quite time consuming) stages for an advertised recruitment then myhrdept can provide support services up to face to face interview stage. It is nevertheless important that clients conduct their own face to face interviews and referencing checks for the selected shortlisted candidate(s).

As a part of this service we will:


Up to £20K

Up to £40K


- Build competence based job description

- Create job advert

- Write and agree with client 1 X ‘phone interview and 2 X FTF interview templates and questions

- Research & advise job boards (advertising costs to be born by client)

- Place advert

- Receive responses

- CV sift

- Telephone interview best fitting candidates

- Send candidate summaries to client

- Arrange interviews

- Broker offer

- Take 2 X telephone references




- Prepare offer letter and employment contract and handle offer and receipt activity




- Carry out aptitude testing




- Carry out psychometric testing




- Carry out CRB, credit checks, litigation history and social media check




- Carry out full executive recruitment service including FTF interview*

18% in 3 stages

20% in 3 stages

22 - 25% in 3 stages

- Design and manage assessment centres for multiple recruitment




Note: We are not a recruitment company and will only undertake executive recruitment on a request basis for existing clients.