Competencies vs Skills, What’s the Difference?

Table of contents

    In the realm of job applications and interviews, understanding the disparity between skills and competencies is crucial. While often used interchangeably, they possess distinct meanings and implications within the recruitment process. Let’s delve into their disparities to equip you with the knowledge needed to navigate competency-based applications and interviews effectively.

    Understanding Skills in Job Recruitment

    A skill can be defined as a learned ability or expertise acquired through training or experience. It encompasses specific proficiencies such as programming languages, graphic design, or project management. Skills are tangible and measurable, directly applicable to tasks within a job role.

    Understanding Competencies

    On the other hand, a competency encompasses a broader spectrum of attributes beyond mere technical proficiency. It refers to the combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics that enable an individual to perform effectively in a job. Competencies are more encompassing, influencing how individuals approach tasks, interact with others, and contribute to organisational goals.

    Application in the Recruitment Process

    When it comes to the application process, particularly in public sector bodies and many private sector organisations, the distinction between skills and competencies becomes paramount. Job descriptions often delineate both required skills and competencies, highlighting the multifaceted nature of the role.

    Distinctions Between Skills and Competencies

    While skills are typically listed explicitly, competencies may be implied or stated indirectly within the job description. Candidates must discern these competencies and demonstrate their alignment through competency-based application forms and interviews.

    Competency-based application forms necessitate candidates to furnish examples showcasing their competency in various areas. Utilising frameworks such as STARLIS, STAR, or ABC (Situation, Task, Action, Result) facilitates clear and structured responses. These examples should be drawn preferably from the past 5-7 years of the candidate’s life, particularly from current or previous employments, to ensure relevance and authenticity.

    During competency-based interviews, experienced interviewers delve deep into candidates’ examples, employing open-ended questions to explore the What, Why, Who, Where, When, and How aspects. Candidates must prepare thoroughly, allocating sufficient time over several weeks to craft compelling examples that elucidate their competencies effectively.

    In summary, while skills and competencies are both integral to success in a job role, understanding the disparity between them is crucial for effectively navigating the recruitment process. By discerning and demonstrating the relevant skills and competencies, candidates can enhance their prospects of securing desired roles and contributing effectively within organisations.

    Scroll to Top