Do Competency Based Interviews Work In The Construction Industry?

 

Recently we have been exploring that frustrating topic of why new hires don’t stay the distance.

 

Today I want to focus on one of the areas that will help you recruit the kind of new hire that stays; that topic is competency based interviewing.

 

So what is a competency based interview?

 

Competency based interviews are a technique based on the understanding that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.  This means when you are interviewing, you ask the candidate questions about times in the past that they have demonstrated how competent they are at certain skills and behaviours.

 

This approach asks the candidate to review their experience and share examples of where and when they have demonstrated certain skills and behaviours on previous projects or in a personal arena.

 

Here is an example of how it might work when you are interviewing for a planner role.
By informing candidates that they will be having a competency based interview they have the opportunity to reflect on:

 

How they achieved their most recent promotion?
What they did to bring a project back on budget that had an overspend of 10%?
How had they used their organisational skills to complete a project one month ahead of
schedule, winning their company a bonus?
What did they do that contributed towards them winning an industry award?

 

While the questioning may seem a little structured and repetitive, as the recruiting manager you are looking for a similar structure in the candidates’ answers.

 

Here is a question that might be used. “Tell us about a time in your past when you demonstrated budgetary management skills in the face of rising costs and an extended project deadline?” You are looking for a response that follows the STAR format:

 

  • Situation: Think of a situation where they applied the competency in question.
  • Tasks: Explain what the tasks were.
  • Actions: Describe the actions they took to fulfil those tasks.
  • Results: Highlight the results they achieved.

 

How do you prepare for a competency-based interview?

 

1. Allocate an appropriate amount of time

 

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This is a more thorough interview and not just an informal chat over a coffee so you will need to allow at least 45 minutes to an hour.

 

2. Have a job description with the competencies you are looking for

 

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The number of competencies will vary depending of the role you are hiring for. As an example, an industrial roofing estimator, a façade package manager or a mechanical contracts manager all have different skills. Be clear what specific competencies each role requires before you interview.

 

3. Prepare the questions you want to ask that will allow each candidate the
opportunity to share their experiences

 

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Here are a few examples:

  • Describe a time when you had to manage upwards
  • Give an example of where you have influenced people who had conflicting agendas
  • Tell me about a time when you had to overcome some challenges to build
    relationships with your colleagues
  • Give us an example of a situation where you had a fundamental disagreement with one of your superiors and what you did?

 

4. Be clear exactly what you are looking for in candidates’ answers

 

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Before the interview, decide which type of answers would score positively and which types of answers would count against the candidates.This helps you to compare each candidate on evidence and facts and stay away from the more subjective such as, ‘they seem like a decent person’.

 

5. Ensure the candidate knows that you will conduct a competency based interview

 

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This gives them time to prepare and you are expecting to see this reflected in the interview.

 

6. Stick to your process and base your recruiting decisions on facts

 

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Remember, if candidate’s answers do not detail their experiences as well as the skills, knowledge and attitude you are looking for, do not employ them. If you do you risk them ‘not going the distance too’.

 

If you would value some assistance with competency based interviewing and hiring the ‘right’ employees for your business, give humres construction a call on 0203 640 8989 or email on info@humres.co.uk

 

Best regards,

Spencer