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Talent Assessment | 8 Min Read

All You Need to Know About Behavioral Competencies Test

How Behavioral Assessments Help in Hiring the Right Fit ?

Evaluating the effectiveness of a prospective hire is often a tedious job. Even though the job-related skills can be tested through previous experiences of handling projects or by skill assessment tests, the soft skills often go unnoticed. As per the National Association of Colleges and Employees survey, employers sighted the following competencies most sought-after in candidates:


How to identify and analyze behaviors and attitudes that are required of employees to perform well is the question that needs answer. Work experience and educational qualifications alone do not ensure whether the individual will fit in the new work culture. A more comprehensive way of assessing if your prospects will prove to be an asset to the organization is to check if they possess the right set of behavioral competencies that align with the values of your organizations.

Behavioral competencies refer to the personality traits or behavioral attributes required to perform a job successfully. Measuring behavioral competencies enable organizations to shortlist talent that will contribute to the success of the organization. These are the traits that individuals must have to fare well in the workplace.

Behavioral competencies can be measured by taking the behavioral assessment test, which is based on the five-factor model of personality (FFM), also known as the Big Five. These five traits are accepted as the broad categories of personality traits, with each personality factor representing a range between two extremes.



Role of Behavioral Assessments in Hiring the Right Fit

Today, soft skills are as crucial as technical job-related skills. As per the Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence would be the most crucial competencies required in the workplace by 2020. This underlines how soft skills remain undervalued in the workplace. Soft skills influence how well an individual can work in collaboration or interact with colleagues. These skills are critical to being efficient, productive, and successful in the workplace. These skills can be assessed via behavioral or personality assessments.

Available since 1920, behavioral assessments were primarily used for recruitment in the armed forces. Over the years, their adoption in human resources has somewhat increased as they play an integral role in an employee’s journey. Technological advancements in the HR ecosystem such as online assessments for recruitment and selection have led to the application of behavioral tests in the workplace.

Every company must have a defined set of competencies that reflect the values, ethos, vision, and culture of the organization. Accordingly, employers can look for candidates with the desired personality traits sought by the organization. Assessing the behavioral competencies of candidates helps employers in the recruitment and selection process.


Benefits of Assessing Behavioral Competencies

What distinguishes top talent from the general pool of job seekers is the soft skills possessed by them. Consequently, companies wish to onboard talent with strong work ethics, drive for excellence, analytical ability, team spirit, and resilience. Technical know-how may, at times, be the second priority for job roles that require strong leadership and people management skills. Hence, the behavioral skills of individuals become crucial.

Assessing Behavioral Competencies assist you in:

  •   A better understanding of expected workplace behaviors
  •   Effective skill gap analysis
  •   Building a rich talent pipeline
  •   Improving the quality of hires

0_Better Understanding of Expected Workplace Behaviors1. Better Understanding of Expected Workplace Behaviors

Companies can work on improving the performance of their workforce by first analyzing their target performance. For this to happen, organizations must define the competencies and segregate them as per job and proficiency levels. Once you have laid down the framework, it gives clarity to the candidates and what is expected of them.

0_Effective Skill Gap Analysis2. Effective Skill Gap Analysis

In addition to finding a suitable candidate with the right personality traits and attitude, behavioral assessments also weed out candidates with attributes that may not be appropriate at the workplace.  While it’s essential to know whom to hire, it is equally crucial to know who not to hire. Personality traits drive employee behavior, as one bad employee can cause much more harm than the benefit delivered by a good employee. Personality tests ensure that only the right candidates are onboarded.

0_ Building a Rich Talent Pipeline3. Building a Rich Talent Pipeline

Apart from selecting the right talent for your immediate hiring needs, behavioral tests also help in creating a talent pipeline of both active and passive candidates, a proactive approach to workforce planning. This on-hold talent pool serves as a ready group of candidates for any future business requirements.  Furthermore, a rich talent pipeline saves cost and time required to hire significantly.

0_Improving the Quality of Hires4. Improving the Quality of Hires

Coupling an organization’s goals with personal performance allows the workforce to stay encouraged and motivated, which enables them to work more effectively and efficiently. Analyzing and improving your current hiring strategy is the first step to improving the quality of hires. Incorporating behavioral assessments in the hiring process would eliminate interviewer bias, measure skill gaps, and help in filtering the top talent.


Understanding Behavioral Competencies at Work


Behavioral competencies are the collective knowledge, attitude and action possessed by an individual in a business setting across all job levels. While some competencies are innately present in everyone, others develop over time through experience. However, seniority takes precedence since an individual is first judged on the parameter of job level before the job role. Meanwhile, technical know-how varies depending on job roles. Behavioral competencies at the workplace can be segregated into the following four categories:

0_Personal Attributes1. Personality Attributes

Every person has a unique personality. People are different only in the way they think, feel and behave. Therefore, personality attributes are a combination of thoughts, characteristics, behaviors, attitudes, ideas and habits of an individual concerning his/her surroundings. Attributes are the core of a person’s being, the way he has been brought up in a particular setting. They are also essential while determining the cultural fitment of an employee.

0_Analytical Ability2. Analytical Ability

Analytical ability is the aptitude to see patterns, trends, and inconsistent information, and drawing a meaningful conclusion based on the given information. These strengths can help solve a company’s problems and improve its overall productivity and success. Employers look for candidates with the ability to investigate a problem and find a solution in a timely, efficient manner.

0_Interpersonal Skills3. Interpersonal Skills

These skills are used by a person to interact with clarity of purpose. They refer to the employee’s ability to get along with coworkers and get the job done in the business domain. Interpersonal skills include everything from communication and listening, to attitude and demeanor. They include a wide variety of skills, though many are centered around communication, such as listening, questioning and understanding the body language. Excellent interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization.

Leadership Skills4. Leadership Skills

A person who leads a small or large group, organization, or nation is said to possess leadership skills. Leadership skills can be applied to any situation where one is required to take the lead, professionally and socially. A good leader keeps his team organized, takes a calculated risk, motivates his peers and pushes them to do their best. Good leadership skills give impetus to steady organizational growth.


To Know More, Read Behavioral Competencies at Work

Even as behavioral competencies have been categorized into four major buckets, they vary as per job roles. This is because the scope of work ranges from one job level to the other. A fresher is expected to be an avid listener and learner, but someone in a managerial role needs to have good analytical skills.


Behavioral Competencies to Look for in Entry-Level Hiring

1. Curiosity

Necessity would have been the mother of invention in previous centuries. But, with technological advancements, curiosity has become the mother of innovation. The most significant discoveries have been the result of curious people asking thought-provoking questions. Organizations must look for curious individuals when onboarding freshers.

Key Indicators at the Workplace

Ø Curious mind that listens attentively and constantly absorbs novel information.

Ø Asking questions and looking for opportunities to help clients.

Suggested Questions to Measure the Competency

Ø If you could change one thing about the workplace, what would it be?

Ø What are you passionate about outside of work?

2. Enthusiasm

Enthusiastic candidates seek happiness in finishing their jobs efficiently. Such passionate candidates don’t give up until they achieve their goals and are hence, vital to an organization.

Key Indicators at the Workplace

Ø Works for long hours without losing effectiveness.

Ø Maintains a good pace to fulfill set objectives.

Suggested Questions to Measure the Competency

Ø You are on the verge of finishing a task when your manager assigns you a new task for which you must start preparing at the backend. What would you do to make up for both the tasks?

Ø What would motivate you to come to the office each day?


Behavioral Competencies to Look for in Mid Senior Level Hiring

1. Delegation

Delegating work to teammates enables managers to be more productive and allows the team to grow. It also enables the manager to find time to take more important strategic decisions or coach the team.

Key Indicators at the Workplace

Ø Provides team members with necessary help and guidance to ensure that they can complete the task appropriately.

Ø Leverages individual contributor’s strengths to ensure that the work is done most efficiently.

Suggested Interview Questions

Ø How stressed and overburdened do you feel at work?

Ø How do you determine if a specific person is fit for a certain task?

2. Empathy

Empathy is an Emotional Intelligence competency that is essential for social awareness. If leaders can put themselves in others’ shoes, they will be more receptive to the needs of their team. Taking an interest in what concerns others, sense unspoken emotions and communicating effectively are the signs of a good manager.

Key Indicators at the Workplace

 Ø Fairly good at understanding feelings, emotions and supportive during stressful times.

Ø Understands emotional components behind complex situations.

Suggested Interview Questions 

Ø How would you comfort someone reluctant to share his problems?

Ø How do you feel and what do you do when you see a colleague crying?


Behavioral Competencies to Look for in Senior-Level Hiring

1. Conflict Management

Effective conflict management not only aids in preventing disputes but also allows employees to channelize their energies better at work. Leaders who handle untoward situations, in turn, create chances of growth within the organization.

Key Indicators at the Workplace

Ø Takes appropriate and immediate action to resolve misunderstandings.

Ø Ensures that conflicts don’t fester for a long time.

Suggested Interview Questions

Ø How would you advise a team member who complained about a coworker’s behavior?

Ø How do you deal with criticism at the workplace?

2. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking requires leaders to go above and beyond their role by delving deeper into processes, understanding the nuances, analyzing data and inferring meaningful information to make better decisions.

Key Indicators at the Workplace

Ø Takes actions and decisions after considering the pros and cons of such a move on the organization.

Ø Considers challenges that are likely to arise in the future and accordingly prepares contingencies for the same.

Suggested Interview Questions 

Ø What are the important things without which you cannot create an effective growth strategy?

Ø How would your approach change if you were to increase the annual target to 10x growth?


Role of Behavioral Assessments in Recruitment

 “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” 
                                                                           -Mark Twain

Behavioral assessment is based on this principle. Past behavior indicates how an individual would fit and perform in a new workplace. Behavioral assessments reveal the characteristics of individuals that may otherwise not be revealed from a face-to-face interview. The different set of questions also provides an overview of how candidates would react in a situation they would encounter at work. Pen-and-paper tests do not offer comprehensive insights on the candidates. Conversely, behavioral tests help in predicting future on-the-job performance. They enable hiring managers to shortlist top talent from a large pool of candidates in a short duration. They also bring to fore certain characteristics of candidates that would help employers better understand prospects. Listed below are some of the benefits of behavioral interviews for your organization:



How Can Mercer | Mettl Help ?

Mettl Personality Profiler (MPP) assesses different personality attributes that are necessary to complete a task. The test is based on behavioral competencies that are integral to an organization. MPP assists employers in gaining information that would influence how he performs his/her work.  Such crucial information tends not to surface from face-to-face interviews. read our guide here to understand the basics of the science behind building this test.

Mettl Personality Profiler consists of 86 (5 points Semantic scale) items across the Big Five personality factors. This kind of format reduces the chances of faking in a test and, thus, helps in improving the utility of the assessments.

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated June 16 2020

Megha Singh

Written by

A writer at heart, Megha has been in the content industry for 4 years. Starting her career from print, her journey spans across IT, legal and consulting industries. She has been associated with Mercer | Mettl as Assistant Manager, Content Marketing for 2 years.

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