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Competence-based recruitment (CBR)

Employee recruitment is one of the most important decisions facing any organisation. Financially, temporally and strategically it is a major investment. KTH has chosen to use competence-based recruitment (CBR). This entails working in a structured manner with a focus on: recruiting the right competence in relation to operational needs; and, assessing applicants’ personal qualities equally and qualitatively. The CBR method involves, amongst other things, structured interviews.KTH uses the method of competency-based recruitment to assess in an equal and qualitative manner the personal competencies of applicants for advertised positions. The method is based on structured interviews.

Why has KTH chosen competence-based recruitment and structured interviews?

  • A more professional and streamlined recruitment process that strengthens KTH’s employer brand.
  • Based on KTH’s overall work with equality, diversity and equal opportunities, a methodology that promotes a non-discriminatory approach throughout the recruitment process.
  • Fewer incorrect recruitments (saves time, human resources and money). On average, an incorrect recruitment costs SEK 700,000 (an incorrect management recruitment approx. SEK 2 – 3 thousand and an incorrect appointment as professor approx. SEK 5 – 10+ thousand). It has been estimated that every tenth recruitment in Sweden is not a success (Poolia’s “Competence Indicator 2013”).
  • Focus on the interview being a good experience for each candidate and all candidates: having the same opportunities; being assessed on the correct bases; and, being treated as equally as possible throughout the recruitment process.
  • All candidates receiving the same questions so that we can more easily compare and assess them with each other.
  • Contributing to achieving KTH’s goals and visions by attracting and recruiting the right personnel.

Contact your school’s HR for more information on competence-based recruitment and for support in the recruitment process.

Introduction to competence-based recruitment (CBR)

Competence-based recruitment entails: working in a structured manner throughout the recruitment process; focusing on the competencies required in the post in question; and, recruiting the correct competence in relation to current and/or future operational needs. At the start of the process, much of the focus should be on producing a well-considered requirements profile (at KTH, a “recruitment permission” or an “appointment profile”). So that a more strategic recruitment decision can be taken, the requirements profile should be based on a thorough needs analysis. The requirements profile should be the thread running through the entire process. It should also be its steering document as regards selection, assessment and decision.

Merit and aptitude

Professionalism, objectivity and legal correctness shall be the hallmarks of our recruitment process. As a public authority, KTH is obliged to recruit in accordance with Sweden’s Public Employment Act . Said act sets out that all decisions on government agency appointments shall be based on professional grounds such as merit and aptitude. Merit here means experience gained through previous public employment. Aptitude relates to the factors affecting the applicant’s suitability for a post. All significant experience should be credited within the framework of aptitude. Under the Public Employment Act, aptitude is to be prioritised.
Because it is based on structure, competencies and facts rather than on gut feelings, competence-based recruitment works well with the Public Employment Act . Further information is available via the following link to a podcast in which the chief legal officer of the Swedish Agency for Government Employers is interviewed on the subject: Interview with Hedda Mann, chief legal officer at the Swedish Agency for Government Employers, about “merit and aptitude”.

Unconscious bias and interviewer effects

Two other things to bear in mind in the recruitment process are “unconscious bias” and “interviewer effects”. For an introduction to unconscious bias, it is well worth watching Recruitment Bias in Research Institutes , a video made by the European Research Council. You can learn more about interviewer effects by taking part in KTH’s own Structured interview technique course .

What is a competence?

In Swedish literature on the subject, the term competence is often defined as “knowledge and skills that are used to achieve a specific result in a given situation” – Andersson, Hallén and Smith (2016). In practice, this means that competence revolves around what a person does rather than on what a person is like. The term is also situation dependent. Working in a structured manner in one job may differ from how this is done in another job. This has two important consequences. One is that, competence is something that can be developed to a greater extent than can personality. The other is that the term itself needs to be defined on the basis of what is important; for a specific appointment; and, in the environment where the work is to be carried out. Because focusing on competencies reduces the focus on other factors, the competence-based method is more inclusive and can lead to greater diversity in an organisation.

Structured interview technique

A competence-based and structured interview aims to evaluate candidates’ abilities in relation to the competencies presented in a job advertisement. In other words, it seeks to discover and evaluate the extents to which candidates have previously demonstrated abilities as regards the competencies required by the appointment in question.

As the interview is competence-based and structured: the questions are behavioural; they are established in advance; and, the interviewer puts the same questions to all the candidates. In this way, we can treat all candidates as equally as possible. Besides facilitating comparison and assessment of the candidates, this also avoids discrimination. Behavioural questions are questions that focus on past performance/action via examples from specific situations.

Regardless of whether you are interviewing alone or with someone else, it is also important to assess interview answers in a structured way with the help of an operations-wide template/scale. Do not hesitate to use the assessment template available under assessment template available under Related documents. It is important that you make your own assessment before you discuss with others. Ensure that you (as an individual or as a team) can give relevant feedback to the candidate after the interview or at the appointment/rejection decision.

“Competence-based” and “structured interview technique” in greater detail

This quick guide provides more in-depth details of what “competence-based” and “structured interview technique” entail

System support and templates for competence-based recruitment (CBR)

KTH has access to a “competence library” with definitions of a number of personal competencies. You can use this library as a support when inserting the personal competencies in the recruitment permission/appointment profile/job advertisement. The library is based on the competence model constructed by Doctor of Psychology Malin Lindelöw . The competence library can be found on this page under Related documents. In Varbi, KTH’s recruitment system, the personal competencies you chose from the competence library can be selected to generate an interview and references template with a battery of questions for the selected competencies. HR helps recruiting managers with handling this in Varbi. You can find our interview and references templates here along with an assessment template . This latter provides support with summarising and assessing after the interview. Contact your school’s HR for support as regards format and the carrying out of structured interviews and the taking up of references.

Training in competence-based recruitment (CBR) and structured interview technique

You are warmly invited to take part in KTH’s own Structured interview technique course. Read more about it and register here.
If a course is not currently available, or if you would like to have a course run for you at your school or division, please contact