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Answering the BIG question - What to assess in a recruitment assessment?

The most critical building block in an assessment design is to decide what exactly one wants to assess and then to what level or standard. This is what is called a competence framework.

Competence as a term has been defined in many ways. Some see it as an underlying characteristic related to superior job performance. It includes aspects such as

  • Motives

  • Traits and attitudes

  • Knowledge

  • Behaviours or skills

Others see competence more narrowly in terms of observable behaviours. In essence, competencies are defined only in terms of skill. Causes of behaviour are not only difficult to measure but also irrelevant; that is why we need to know if people can display certain behaviours, not why. Motives are internal to a person. It isn't easy to find out what motivates prospective employees in practice. Hence, we infer them through what people say or do, i.e. their behaviours.

Types of Competence and their assessments:

There are broadly three types of competence. They are universals, occupationals and relationals. Let us get into the details of each.


These competencies could be related to performance in any job. Some examples of such competencies could be oral communication, interpersonal skills, ability to listen actively.

In a customer-facing role, others must understand and be understood while giving or receiving information. Assessing communication skills help determines the effectiveness while conversing. In an operations role assessing communication skills help determines the effectiveness while talking and responding to customer requests during delivery routines.

While checking for oral communication, one would need to look at the ability to speak clearly, speak at an appropriate pace, and speak to the point using straightforward language void of jargon.

Using one-way video responses, one can quickly check for a candidate's ability to converse as per role requirements. Using multiple choice questions, one can present broad scenarios to candidates to assess their style of dealing with differences or conflicts – interpersonal skills


These are specific competencies that relate to a particular job or family of jobs. Such competencies include numerical reasoning, customer handling, leadership, etc. In customer-facing roles, one should be able to ask questions to identify customer needs. One should also be able to build rapport by using appropriate body language and voice tone. One must be able to handle difficult customers and conflict scenarios.

While assessing these traits, one will need to negate candidates who offer solutions without exploring issues, are unsympathetic towards customers and do not consider the impact on others while making suggestions.

Using MCQ and text response questions, one can easily identify the presence of customer focus in candidates. Using different multiple choice question options, one can present customer interaction scenarios to candidates to assess how deeply they display the key tenants of customer service. Text-based questions can be used to help candidates detail their way of solving conflict scenarios or means of managing demanding customers.


Competencies required in a job setting can vary widely according to the job setting. A sales consultant working for a premium car brand in a metro city may require more skills than a sales consultant working for a mass car brand in a tier 3 city. The metro guy might need to ability to speak the language of luxury. Qualities of this kind are sometimes characterized as 'fit' or 'job fit'.

The sense of fit is influenced by several factors, including an individual's values related to the sense of achievement, work/life balance and opportunities for growth in organizational culture.

Often, organizations prefer looking for job fitment during interviews, but it would be ideal for screening out applicants unsuitable early in the funnel through a value questionnaire.

Using a graded MCQ career interest inventory questionnaire, organizations can quickly identify candidates having a natural disposition toward the job role. A graded situation response questionnaire can also help determine the presence of personality traits necessary for the function.

SmartList as a platform can include questions in multiple formats – from simple MCQs to graded response MCQs, file uploads to text responses to video responses. Such flexibility on the platform offers the power to assess knowledge, demonstrated skill and personality bend to help zero in on the most appropriate quality talent pool. Come sign up and take us for a spin!

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