Are you planning to use Competency Based Interviews (CBI) for your business ?


Normally employers spend decent amount of time and money putting in place processes and systems , for the sake of – “me too”, and “feels good” to have a great process. One aspect that gets missed out , most of the time is – the effectiveness of the process, and whether the implementation is meeting the intent and the originally established purpose.

Some questions to ask yourself and your hiring managers – while you think of deploying a CBI process or review the efficacy of a CBI process.

1. Does it add value to your business ?

What are you trying to get out of it. If its just a thought that its a good thing to do – avoid doing it. Think of other ways that can add value to your hiring process. Fine tuning a normal interview process with nuances of CBI  can add more value than a poorly implemented CBI.

2. Do you have the financial resources for a proper implementation ?

A proper implementation would mean a reasonable degree of pre work, establishing of a competency framework – if you don’t have one , development of handbook, typical questions that could reflect on the competencies, guidelines for assessment and scoring and interpretation, sampling and studies to ascertain validity of the instrument / tool / framework. Once all this is done – the implementation has to be preceded by training for all hiring managers – so as they are able to use the framework in the right manner.

Now all this can be really expensive and you need to budget at least 2-3 months of time for a quick implementation. The time may be more depending on complexity of the competency framework &  the organisation, and ideally every stage of design and implementation needs the approval and buy in by the key members / leadership etc.

3. Would your hiring managers have about 45 Mins. – 90 Mins. to administer a CBI ?

Yes, rest assured its a time consuming process, and if done as per guidelines prescribed by your framework it would needs at least 45 Mins to 90 Mins for a single interview. Post that one needs to record the observations, evidences from the conversation and rate the candidate as per the rating guidelines. It takes time. Are your hiring managers going to take the process seriously ?

4. How would you ascertain the quality of implementation ? 

Do you think you can check on the quality of hires – may be difficult, if performance ratings are an indicator it will be over a year or two before you are able to see if the hiring’s have been quality hiring’s. The only way to assess quality may be to see if the implementations are as planned – you need to keep a tab on all records, observations, documentation created around an interview. Possibly the documentation and recording aspect has to be built into the process and linked with every managers KRA. Remember – Keeping track of documentation is not easy, forcing managers to complete a documentation is not easy – since every one is already busy with their regular work and targets that quality interviewing falls off every ones agenda. (You can relate these events to your experience with managers who find it difficult to even do their own self appraisals, and more difficult to find time to appraise their team members.)

Now, this article is not to discourage your from a CBI implementation. It’s just giving you some direct pointers to keep in mind when you or your HR guys go gaga on the concept of CBI to improve your hiring process.

If however you have taken a call on the implementation, you may incorporate the following to make it relevant and effective.

Avoid using the process and framework for prelim interviews, entry level positions, bulk hiring’s, frontline or even managerial hiring’s. There may be possibility that the hiring managers for these positions may themselves not be adequately mature to understand and implement the process in the right manner. Also since most hiring’s happen at entry level, the process may lead to lost productivity and wastage of time.

You may want to keep the CBI stuff for key positions and may be middle / senior level positions. For your middle and senior level hiring’s ideally the hiring managers would be senior / HODs / CxO’s etc. with a better maturity and understanding of the process, competencies etc. In fact the relevant of the process reflects on the quality of hiring’s relatively easily for middle & senior management positions where in most positions are unique. The number of hiring’s at middle / senior level would also be relatively low – so giving more time in a planned manner can be well justified.

Leverage the concept of BEI (Behavioural Events Interviewing) in your normal interview process to do a check on the candidates stand on identified competencies. Use a hybrid model , where in the focus in on improving the efficiency of the process without getting tied down to too many framework, guidelines etc.

© No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without prior permission in writing. You may connect with the author at

You are welcome to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, arguments etc. on the article. Add your comments or send us an email.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *