Recruitment is a costly investment for an organisation to make. The risks can be high as the cost of a bad hire will have a very negative impact, not only in terms of time and money, but also on team morale and organisational culture.

Many organisations have started using behavioural competencies when recruiting, as well as organisational and job fit, rather than the more traditional “100% match” with skills, technical knowledge and experience.

An effective recruitment and selection campaign is supported by a well-planned process, starting by analysing the available position to ensure that the competencies required for the aligned tasks are identified and the associated behaviours are accurately quantified. Detailed interview guides must provide guidance and support to everyone involved in the recruitment campaign, and must incorporate a well-balanced mix of different recruitment activities to ensure that the information gathered from candidates is meaningful and complete. This will mitigate the risk of a bad hiring decision.

Some of the common pitfalls to guard against when interviewing candidates include:

  • Line managers often differ with regard to the skills and other requirements for successful job performance for a particular position, even when the competencies are clearly defined.
  • Demands to fill the position may place undue pressure on the interviewer to make a hiring decision that they would not make under normal circumstances. Recruitment takes time, and one must guard against taking shortcuts.
  • Candidates who are interviewed by several managers are asked the same questions by everyone. This limits the information gleaned from the candidate and makes it impossible to judge whether they possess all the required competencies.
  • “Tell me about yourself” seems to be one of the standard interview questions that has been asked during most interviews, and one which all of us have probably been asked at some stage in our job hunting endeavours. The question is too broad, and generally does not elicit any pertinent job-related information. It could also allow the candidate to take control of the interview.
  • Allowing a single competency to overshadow the lack of others – or the opposite – can be a distinct downfall on the part of the interviewers. The interview guide must clearly indicate the competencies needed for the job; which competencies are “must have” and which are “nice to have” and contain a clear scoring system.
  • Human nature, being what it is, means that bias could distort the interviewer’s judgement. Many interviewers make snap decisions about candidates based on information from the CV, the candidate’s dress-sense or their handshake. This tends to cloud the interviewer’s objectivity and, no matter what the candidate does or says thereafter, they do not stand a chance of landing the job.
  • Answers given by candidates are misinterpreted by the interviewer. Instead of asking follow-up questions to clarify their understanding, or to obtain a deeper understanding of a situation, the interviewer moves on to the next question too quickly.
  • Interviewers often focus on the core skills needed for the job and ignore the motivational aspects of the position and candidate. There must be synergy between the job and the person doing it.
  • “How can I get experience if nobody will hire me?” – many school-leavers and university graduates have asked this question. Some line managers tend to ignore recent graduates because it is difficult to gather sufficient information in an interview on which to base a hiring decision. This means that selection methods other than solely interviews based on work experience need to be implemented in the search for the best person for the position.
  • The selection systems in many organisations are not clearly defined, resulting in a waste of time, money and effort. These include inadequate interviewing guides, inappropriate interview questions and impractical scoring scales.

It is important for line managers to be trained in interviewing techniques because, although they are supported by the HR department, it is ultimately the line managers who make the final hiring decision.

A Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment and Selection focuses on behavioural and competency-based interviewing techniques. The workshop includes preparing job descriptions and specifications, choosing the most appropriate selection procedure, reviewing and evaluating sources of candidates. It also looks at testing and assessing candidates, obtaining references, declining unsuccessful candidates and offering employment.

A Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment and Selection is aligned to unit standard 12140: Recruit and select candidates to fill defined positions, and covers:

  • Planning and preparing for recruitment and selection which covers analysing positions and drafting required competencies and specifications for different roles.
  • Drawing up competency-based interviewing guides which includes appropriate questions and rating scales.
  • Initial screening and short listing techniques.
  • Conducting competency-based interviews, recording responses and rating competencies.
  • Conducting references, credit and criminal checks.
  • Making offers and declining unsuccessful candidates.
  • The impact of legislation on recruitment and selection practices.


A Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment and Selection is aimed at any employee who is involved in the recruitment and appointment of other employees, including internal recruiters from HR departments, recruiters working for consultancies that recruit staff on behalf of clients, and especially line managers who conduct final interviews.


For further information, contact Marisa Robinson on 084 294 9117 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.