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Recruiting & Hiring

Competencies in Job Ads Determine Candidate Quality: Here’s How

September 18, 2016
5 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


The messaging in a job advertisement influences the type of candidate who will respond. Successful job ads that attract quality candidates should have enough information for the candidate to be able to determine if they’re a suitable applicant, but not too much information to keep the candidate intrigued and curious.

The messaging in the job description influences how the recruiter and hiring manager will respond to the applicants during the candidate screening and interviewing process. Yes, job advertisements and job description ARE different. The ad is used externally to attract applicants and the description is used internally with more detail to inform the hiring process.

There’s no way you can miss this: 10 Unique Candidate Screening Questions You Should Always Ask

How Competencies Inform the Hiring Process

The competencies needed for a specific role can be communicated both in the advertisement and the description, and they should help the receiver (either the applicant or the hiring professional) differentiate what unique behaviors are needed to be successful in the job.

If the job advertisement lists the following competencies, the job description should note a set of behaviors recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers should look for. Customer-Service Focused can mean different things depending on the culture of your organization and business objectives, so make sure to dig deep into your culture’s mission and values and speak with management to determine these.

Company A - Less Volatile Customer Service Job (Think Trader Joe’s)

Job Advertisement:

Job Description

Customer-Service Focused

Seeking applicants who genuinely love making customers happy, anticipate customer’s needs and don’t mind wearing a Hawaiian shirt to work!

Customer-Service Focused at Company A means the candidate is polite, has a pleasant demeanor, smiles warmly, doesn’t interrupt, is easy to relate to, says ma’am and sir, etc.

Company B - Extremely Volatile Customer Service Department (Think American Airlines)

Job Advertisement:

Job Description

Customer-Service Focused

Seeking applicants who are able to provide solutions to customers in one of the highest stress environments known to mankind.

Customer-Service Focused at Company B means the candidate has tact, can respond appropriately to rudeness, is patient, has the ability to put people at ease, etc.

Whether you opt for humor or not in your job advertisement, and we recommend you do, it’s important to note these job ads are specific on either side. The candidate has insight into exactly what’s expected, and the hiring professional knows exactly what to look for during the screening and interviewing process.

Stating customer-service focused is an obscure competency and it makes it difficult for candidates to identify with the position. With 77% of candidates stating they feel job ads should include more information, fleshing out competencies is a great way to tune them up!

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.png77% of candidates feel job ads should include more information. Try competencies!

Get Applicant and Employee Feedback

Surveying the applicant after they’ve applied for the position is another way to take a competency-based approached to your recruitment process. Ask questions like:

  • Was the job advertisement you applied to written well and visually attractive?
  • What information do you wish would have been included in the job advertisement?
  • What made you apply for the position?

Then, surveying employees in the onboarding process can give you even more insight into how effective the job advertisement was:

  • Was the job advertisement you applied to clear about the position, responsibilities and qualities needed to be successful in your role?
  • Is there any information you think should have been included in the job advertisement for this role to give applicants better insight into what it takes to work here?
  • What did you feel was missing from the job advertisement?

This information is crucial to gather, especially when you consider the fact that women will only apply for a position if they are 100% confident in their ability to do the job whereas men apply if they are 60% sure they’ll be able to do the job. If we don’tconsider the gender factor, the truth is, there’s a lot of quality talent out there that might not even apply because your job advertisments simply aren’t specific or clear enough!

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.pngWomen tend to apply for a position if they are 100% qualified for a job.


Turn your job advertisement ship around by adopting a competency-based approach to the ads and the internal descriptions. Interested in learning more about competency-based management?

Need help managing competency? We can help you with that! Check out our Competency Management page for the best tools in the business. 

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