What is Competency?

Meaning & Definition


Competency refers to a set of demonstrable and measurable characteristics, skills, knowledge, abilities, and behaviors that an individual possesses and can apply effectively in a particular context or role. Competencies are often used in the context of human resources, education, and professional development to define the qualities, capabilities, and qualifications required for success in a specific job, profession, or task.

Key points related to competencies

  • Specific Skills and Attributes

Competencies encompass specific skills, attributes, and behaviors that individuals need to perform their jobs or tasks effectively. These may include technical skills, soft skills, and personal attributes.

  • Measurable and Observable

Competencies are measurable and observable, meaning they can be assessed, evaluated, and demonstrated. This makes them valuable for performance evaluations and professional development.

  • Context-Dependent

Competencies can be context-dependent, meaning that the skills and behaviors required in one role or industry may differ from those needed in another. Competency models are often customized to reflect these differences.

  • Core and Job-Specific

Competencies can be categorized as core (generic and applicable to many roles) or job-specific (tailored to a particular position or profession). Core competencies often include skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability.

  • Development and Assessment

Competencies are used in employee development, training, and performance assessments. Organizations may use competency models to identify areas where employees can improve their skills and to create targeted training programs.

  • Competency Models

A competency model is a framework that outlines the specific competencies required for success in a particular job or profession. It can serve as a reference for hiring, performance appraisals, and professional development.

  • Competency-Based Education

In education, competency-based learning focuses on students demonstrating specific competencies before progressing to the next level of education or obtaining a degree or certification.

  • Competency-Based Hiring

Employers often use competency-based interviews and assessments to evaluate job candidates. These assessments aim to identify whether candidates possess the required competencies for a specific role.

Competencies play a critical role in various aspects of human resources management, including job descriptions, hiring, performance management, career development, and succession planning. They provide a structured way to define the qualifications and expectations for employees in different roles. Additionally, competency-based approaches are often used to align individuals with the strategic goals and objectives of organizations.

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