How to assess the competency of job applicants

Having trouble knowing whether an applicant is qualified for the job he/she is applying for? Below are some guidelines you can use:

You should have a standard to which you can compare job applicants. One method might be to make a checklist of the attributes the employee should have and then to check how many are present in the employee. Some of these points will be absolutely necessary. Others may be ignored if the applicant has some exceptional quality. Some examples of what might go on the checklist would be education, years of experience, English/Arabic language fluency, necessary skills for the job, basic computer skills, typing skills, telephone skills, correspondence skills, professionalism, etc. More would be added and some qualities removed based on the post the applicant is applying for. For some posts, appearance and correspondence skills are absolutely necessary while for other posts, technical knowledge is more important because the employee will be mostly working with computers/data and not people.

Sometimes you can decide from a phone call whether the applicant has a chance to be hired. For example, if you need fluency in a particular language, you can assess this from the phone conversation.

During interviews, check the applicant’s portfolio to see their prior work. Ask questions directly related to the type of job he or she will be doing. For example, if the applicant is an accountant, let them demonstrate how they will record a particular transaction. In follow-up interviews, you can have them do the type of work they will be doing. For example, if they are an architect, you can take one of the items in their portfolio and ask them to prepare it using the appropriate software. If they will be working as a receptionist, you can ask them to answer the phone a few times. You don’t have to watch their work the whole day; in a little while you should know how proficient they are.

But don’t forget the stress factor. Interviewees tend to be nervous and that may affect their work. If they demonstrated through other means that they have the qualities you are looking for but are nervous during a test, give them a chance to work for a few days. If you see that they are qualified and hardworking, then hire them for a short probation period (1-3 months) during which time you and the applicant will both assess the work and environment. If you both are comfortable with each other and the employee is showing competence, you can give them a longer contract.

Continuous assessment of their work should be done to make sure employees are working to standard and remain on track.

Tips for job applicants: You can use the above to improve your interview skills by focusing on items that the interviewer is expected to observe. Mainly, focus on the bold underlined parts.

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