Hiring nonprofit employees: Creating a competency-based interviewing process


All nonprofits go through the employee and volunteer hiring process, but has your organization formerly focused on competency-based interviewing? Read on for an overview of how this tactic can improve the caliber and longevity of new hires in any field.

What is competency?

Competency is an underlying characteristic of an employee (for example, a motive, a trait, a skill, a body of knowledge) which results in behavior leading to effective job performance. For purposes of employee selection, competency is defined in terms of effective performance. For purposes of management development, competency is defined in terms of exceptional performance.

Competencies in Practice

Competency models are developed for specific positions. They may be custom made or adapted from previous studies.

Types of Competency Model Uses

  • Employee selection: people are selected for positions based on their competency (initial hire or promotion)
  • Employee development: competencies can be the focus of training programs
  • Performance review: employees can be evaluated based on their demonstrated competency
  •  Strategic planning: competence can also be assessed at the organizational level in strategic planning studies

Developing a Competency Model

Competency models are an extension of job analysis. The focus in job analysis is on tasks performed whereas the focus in competency modeling is on the behavior of job incumbents. There is a shift from qualifications to actual performance.

Techniques used in competency modeling studies can be focus groups, surveys, and panels of subject matter experts. There are many competency dictionaries that may be used to define specific job behaviors sought in applicants.

Jeff Berman Competency Model

 Example of a Competency Model (Photo)

Job Title: Manager

Interpersonal Skills

  •        Building positive working relationships
  •        Building trust
  •        Communication skills

Collaboration Skills

  •        Working together as a team
  •        Customer service skills
  •        Partnering with supervisor

Self-Management Skills

  •        Quality focus
  •        Adaptability
  •        Decision making
  •        Planning and organizing
  •        Continuous learning
  •        Professional knowledge/expertise

Developing a competency model for interviewing new hires and volunteers can save your organization time, funds and energy. If your nonprofit is interested in learning how ESC of New England can assist a hiring process or other management matters through a consulting engagement, contact Ulea Lago at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550 today.