2/17/12

What are HR people looking to identify from the candidate during an interview?

Question suggested by my friend Gianina Froicu

To start with, I should define the phrase "list of competencies" and type of competencies.
For each position there are two types of competencies - technical/business competencies and soft skills.

Technical/Business competencies are tested mostly by technical members of the team (senior consultants and analysts, technical managers, any person from the team able to decide if a candidate has the right knowledge to be a programmer, database expert, tester, HR specialist or even welder or cook). All knowledge making you a professional/expert in a certain area are technical competencies. Even for human resources - what they know and their experience in terms of recruitment, payroll, law and so on involve the technical or business side of the job.

The other side is made up of the soft skills.
Soft skills are the individual traits, connected somehow to the candidate's personality and social experience. Some can be developed and improved in time and some you are born with. Some examples are: presentation skills, decision making, strategic thinking, proactivity, time management, organizing and prioritizing skills, resilience to stress, leadership skills, social skills, team work and many more.

These are the skills that HR tries to identify during an interview through targetted questions. A candidate can be asked directly if he/she is organized and asked to give examples, can be given an exercise (for example to prioritize a list of tasks according to their importance and urgency) or can be asked tricky questions like "Where do you leave your keys when you are at home?". According to the answer you see if the candidate leaves his things all over the place and then complains about not finding them or if they have a special place for their keys that they use daily. Of course only one question is not enough to test a candidate. HR may ask more or may combine different testing techniques in individual or group interviews to select the best candidates.

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