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Talent Assessment | 5 Min Read

Behavioral Competencies: The Cultural Core of Every Organization

What is Behavioral Competency?

Behavioral competency refers to any personality characteristics and behavior attributes individuals may have, which can help determine how successful they will be at the role they are aspiring for. It is used to define employees’ behavioral merits that ensure their success in their future endeavors in the workplace. Behavioral competencies include skills, attitudes, actions, and qualities that distinguish top-performers.

Any behavioral characteristic such as skill set, knowledge, technical know-how, leadership skills, etc., which contributes to an individual’s development in the organization to assume significantly bigger roles is known as behavioral competency. Individuals at all levels (be it top, middle or lower level) come within its purview. Measuring core behavioral competencies is not as easy as it seems, but it is, by and large, a critical step in the hiring process. A potential employee always looks for a candidate who can successfully perform the work.

Behavioral competency refers to any personality traits, and behavior attributes an individual may have, which can help predict how successful he/she will be at the role they are aspiring for. It is used to define employees’ behavioral merits that ensure their success in their future endeavors in the workplace.

Behavioral competencies are how you perform, in relation to other people, that contribute to trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success in your relationships so that your relationships are constructive, productive and supportive. Each of these principles can be isolated in group behavior, they could also prescribe the direction an organization could take to improve work culture and workgroup behavior at the root cause in a measurable and targeted way.

Dianne Crampton
President, TIGERS Success Series, Inc

Types of Behavioral Competencies

There are four types of behavioral competencies:

  • Personality attributes are a combination of an individual’s thoughts, characteristics, behavior, attitudes, ideas, and habits concerning their surroundings. Personality attributes encompass accountability, self-confidence, self-awareness, enthusiasm, etc. They are crucial in determining an employee’s cultural fitment.
  • Interpersonal skills are used by a person to interact with a clarity of purpose. It refers to an employee’s ability to get along with coworkers and efficiently work in a group to fulfill their job’s responsibilities. Interpersonal skills include effective communication, active listening, teamwork, conflict management, etc. Excellent interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization.
  • Analytical ability is the aptitude to visualize patterns, trends, inconsistent information, and draw meaningful conclusions based on the given information. If one possesses the skill, they can devise solutions by following methodological approaches or using creativity to comprehensively visualize the problem. Problem-solving abilities, critical thinking and logical reasoning are all clubbed under analytical ability. These strengths can help solve a company’s challenges and improve its overall productivity and success. Employers want candidates who can investigate a problem and find a timely and efficient solution.
  • Leadership skills can be related to any situation required to take the lead, professionally and socially. A good leader keeps their team organized, takes calculated risks, motivates peers, and encourages them to perform to the best of their abilities. Excellent leadership skills give impetus to steady organizational growth.

What are the Core Behavioral Competencies?

Core behavioral competencies can be explained as the list of specific competencies for a job. These competencies include character traits, motivations, and abilities required to perform effectively, regardless of the nature of the job. Such competencies highlight a set of behaviors that aligns a company’s objectives with observable behaviors, thus helping achieve organizational goals.

Core behavioral competencies are the fundamental values of an organization expected to be embodied by each of its employees. They are akin to a blueprint of an organization on which the workforce is built. For a customer-facing organization, the core behavioral competency could be customer-centricity. Core behavioral competencies are different across industries, organization size, type, function, etc.

Core Behavioral Competencies by Job Level

Behavioral competencies vary based on job level because of the scope of the work. A fresher is expected to be an avid listener and learner, but someone in a managerial role needs good analytical skills. Here is a list of behavioral competencies that can be employed to develop a behavioral competency framework, carry out a behavioral competency profiling exercise, identify employees’ behavioral indicators, structure the hiring process, and ask the right questions to measure their competencies. The list covers behavioral competencies for managers, freshers, and senior leaders.


Organizations should have defined behavioral competencies of managers. The reason being that some people are born with an innate capacity to effectively lead and manage others to achieve common goals, while others need some help developing crucial manager competencies. That’s why companies need to have a consistent competency model for their leadership team.

Why Should You Assess Behavioral Competencies?

Behavioral competencies should form the basis for human resource development and significantly contribute to competency frameworks when making important talent decisions. All organizations, irrespective of their type, size, and function, can benefit from using behavioral competencies in the following ways:

Common Language: Behavioral competencies can lay the foundation for everything critical to an organization. They can dictate expected workplace behavior, a precise and shared understanding of performance standards, and an organization’s values and objectives.

Objective Recruitment: Analyzing and improving the existing hiring strategy is the first step towards improving employees’ quality. Behavioral competencies provide an objective platform to evaluate the screening process and promote a better organizational culture. Behavioral competencies assessed through interviews, assessments, exercises, and tasks eliminate interviewer bias, enable filtering the right talent, and set them on a trajectory to success from the very beginning.

Behavioral competencies can be a great way to tell if someone will be successful at their job or not. A lot of people do not know how the link between personality and skill can be able to tell how well they will work in a job or not, but this is really a thing and something that more people should think about. Being able to have that professionalism and knowledge is great, but if you do not have a care and compassion, as well as support and a willingness to learn, you will not succeed in that job as much as you would like to. When hiring, think about these factors. When looking for a job, working on those areas that you may be weaker at.

Dr.Giuseppe Aragona
General Practitioner & Family Doctor at Prescription Doctor

Employee Development: Once an organization has identified behavioral competencies pertinent to a particular role and level, they can benchmark their workforce against those competencies and initiate individual developmental plans accordingly. Behavioral competencies can also enable employees to identify transferable skills for career progression. 

Organizational Planning: Behavioral competencies are the bedrock of all organizational planning initiatives, such as high-potential identification, succession planning, leadership development, etc.

“Behavioral competencies lie at the core of work culture and department behavior. They make an organization’s values, mission and vision more achievable. They form the core of an organization’s behavior norms.

Since every group is different, it is vital to conduct an organization-wide exercise of nailing down behavior that employees know to be important that support the six principles – trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success. In this way, hiring, succession planning, training and development, high potential identification, appraisals and promotion are in alignment. 

When an organization has determined its group behavior norms, they can be put into performance reviews, performance-related hiring questions and the onboarding process. They can also be used to build skills so that people who demonstrate these behaviors also demonstrate the skills needed to lead people. If Gallup’s research is true, organizations promote the wrong people into leadership positions more than 82% of the time. One must look to behavior as a root cause.”

– Dianne Crampton, President, TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

How Do You Measure Behavioral Competencies?

Behavioral competencies are essential indicators of future workplace success and crucial for workforce planning, recruitment, training and development. Many organizations may already have a process to observe or assess employees’ behavioral competencies without realizing it. For instance, interview questions in the hiring process are inadvertently directed at measuring personality attributes and interpersonal skills.

Behavioral competencies are inherent attributes and personality traits an individual might have, such as knowledge, abilities, and proficiency, which are essential in determining how efficient a person will be at the job he/she is applying for. These competencies are crucial for deciding the behavioral strengths of employees. Employers often refer to the behavioral competencies list to align employee behaviors with company objectives.

Behavioral competency assessments are new-age digital tools to measure behavioral competencies in a simulated work environment. These assessments require candidates to demonstrate their behavioral skills in an activity that resembles an actual organizational situation.

You can also conduct psychometric assessments, in addition to behavioral assessments, to measure candidates against particular competencies and predict job performance with detailed scores of different competencies. Else, you also can opt for role-based behavioral competency tests that can help you save time in your hiring decisions while allowing you to gain insight into the candidate’s real personality.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

Mercer | Mettl helps you :

  • identify core behavioral competencies vital to your organizational success
  • create a detailed competency framework for different job roles and levels
  • customize assessments and exercises that can measure critical competencies

Mercer | Mettl’s suite of behavioral assessments and tools can be used in isolation or combination in any phase of the employee lifecycle, which includes selection, promotion, employee development, leadership development, team development, and leadership effectiveness.

Mercer | Mettl’s Online Behavioral Assessment Tools

  • Situational Judgment Tests are used to analyze rate, rank, or select the most effective response in role-specific scenarios.
  • In-box Exercises are employed to choose the best possible response to issues presented in the mails.
  • Caselets Sets are used to solve the problems highlighted in the backdrop of a business scenario.
  • Case Study Simulators are employed to find relevant information, diagnose issues, and recommend actions.

Mercer | Mettl’s Offline Behavioral Assessment Tools

  • Group Discussion is used to assess the ability to influence, communicate and work in a team.
  • Group Activities are used to determine the ability to handle and solve a problem as part of a group.
  • Behavioral Event Interviews are used to draw out a detailed description of a candidate’s understanding of a given business situation.
  • In-tray Exercises are employed to assess the ability to prioritize, gather information, and call meetings when faced with an influx of tasks.
  • Role-Plays put the candidates within a business constraint where they are asked to play a specific role.
  • Case Presentations help assess a candidate’s confidence and communication skills in front of an audience.

Originally published July 13 2020, Updated June 11 2024

Written by

Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.

About This Topic

Behavioral assessments are extensively used in education and workplace settings to observe, identify, and explain behavior. In the corporate context, behavioral assessments require individuals to demonstrate behavioral competencies through multiple activities relevant to the job role and resemble an actual organizational situation.

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