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Hiring for Competencies at MIT

Why Hire for Competencies?

Matching people with jobs based on both behavioral and technical competencies results in a better job-person "fit". This leads to greater satisfaction on the part of both the employer and the employee.

Competency-based interviewing has already been practiced widely at MIT with positive results. It has been used in diverse areas (e.g. Information Systems, Dept. of Facilities, Technology Review, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, School of Engineering) for a wide range of positions (from support staff to the Executive Vice President). See Competencies in Human Resource Practices at MIT: The Human Resources Practices Development Team (HRPD) Recommendations in this guide for more information.

The basic principle of interviewing for competencies is this:

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

In competency-based interviewing, you ask the candidate to tell you about specific, actual past events in which he or she played an active role. You listen for evidence that the person demonstrated behaviors in those situations that are identical to or similar to the competencies you are looking for. For example, if you hear about a candidate trying to persuade a supervisor to change a decision, that would constitute evidence of the Ability to Influence competency.

Getting this type of information can greatly increase the power and precision of the interview process. Specifically, this approach is more reliable and effective than asking people to say what they would do in a hypothetical situation.

What CompQuick Can Do For You

CompQuick can help you…

  • …focus your questions. The structure of competency interviewing helps you be clear about what qualities you are looking for in a candidate.
  • …tap an additional source of data. Listening to and assessing the stories that candidates tell in response to competency questions provides rich information you probably would not get otherwise.
  • …begin thinking in terms of competency requirements for the positions you hire for. Using the technique of competency interviewing can help you deepen your understanding of what will lead to successful performance in the job for which you are hiring, and how to look for it when interviewing.

Should You Use CompQuick?

  • CompQuick is just a simple introduction to competency-based interviewing and selection. If you want develop your interviewing skills beyond CompQuick, the course Competency Modeling and Competency-Based Interviewing and Selection is offered on a regular basis. The course offers more in-depth information and practice in probing for competencies, assessing different levels of competency, and selecting appropriate competencies for a job or group of jobs (competency modeling).

The MIT Administrative Staff Core Competency Model

Using CompQuick


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Last updated January 2000


| What is CompQuick? | What are Competencies? |

| The MIT Administrative Staff Core Competency Model | Hiring for Competencies at MIT |

| Using CompQuick | Competency Interviewing Tips | Downloads |

| Learning More | The MIT Selection Process |