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What makes for a great employee hire? How can you know if someone will be a good team player? What clues suggest a strong ethic, a good ability to self-organize, or a knack for quick learning?

The answers to all these questions boil down to behavioral competencies. In this edition of nSider, we chat with Elisa Burgos-Ojeda, Learning and Development Manager at nTech Workforce to find out how staffing agencies assess behavioral competencies in the workplace and what personality traits, knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) they look for during interviews.


What Are Behavioral Competencies? What Is the Purpose of a Behavioral Interview?

Assessing behavioral competencies can be difficult because it ultimately has to do with personality traits, requiring insights that most recruiting departments are not trained to navigate.

According to Burgos-Ojeda, behavioral competencies include things like “global and cultural effectiveness, so that you can navigate situations that might not be familiar to you productively, respectfully, and inclusively. Communication is always a super valuable skill, and so is critical thinking.”

While staffing agencies are looking for evidence of hard skills and experience, they are also assessing personality traits. This is because, with any group of applicants selected for an interview, most of them will have similar skill sets and experience, but it is how they rise to challenges and learn from setbacks that will set them apart.

Moreover, as Burgos-Ojeda notes, “The world of work is changing so quickly. What we would consider functional skills or the hard skills are very quickly becoming outgrown and outdated.” In that case, what distinguishes certain applicants will be their “ability to learn and grow.”


Should Candidates Prepare For Behavioral Assessments?

Looking closely, one will notice that behavioral assessments are a part of every interview. Burgos-Ojeda recommends applicants prepare for those questions. “Think about your work history and find some stories that reflect some of the behavioral competencies.”

When asked about how the applicant has coped in the past, the applicant might have a story ready about a “challenging situation that they faced and that they successfully resolved, or maybe here’s a challenging situation that they faced and they failed and what did they learn from it and what would they do differently in the future.”

Questions about challenging co-workers, managing deadlines, handling stress, or dealing with unknown variables can all be opportunities to shine a light on your behavioral aptitudes.

Burgos-Ojeda also adds that “Stories are brain-friendly ways of communicating, it’s a very integral part of how humans communicate and learn and remember things. When you communicate with stories, it becomes a lot more memorable to the person that you’re speaking with.”


How Does Behavioral Competency Add Value For Staffing Agency Clients?

According to Burgos-Ojeda, the importance of behavioral competency assessment is that it “helps identify candidates who can adapt so as our landscape changes, because it’s unpredictable. Making sure you’re hiring for those behavioral competencies and skills is going to make for a more valuable addition to the organization.”

According to Harvard Business Review, 67% of 195 leaders polled in 15 countries agreed that “high ethical and moral standards” is the most highly rated attribute, followed closely by “clearly communicating expectations.” These results demonstrate the importance of leveraging quality hires to create a safe, trusting, and open environment.

As Burgos-Ojeda agrees, noting, “If we’re not able to communicate effectively, we can’t get work done.” Similarly, some behavioral aptitudes may be more specific to a role, where leaders may be looking for “someone who is highly adaptable because the nature of the work changes very quickly."

Competencies in the workplace are unique to each organization. Assessing those needs with your staffing agency at the outset is an important step to ensuring the best fit for your next hire.

If you are looking for an added edge with your next hire, or if you are hoping to ensure a good fit for your team, contact nTech Workforce to find out more.

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