Competency assessment is a review or testing process geared toward rating the skill, productivity level, and natural abilities of an individual. Some businesses also use competency assessment tactics to measure the success and effectiveness of a department or even entire organization. Competency assessment, whether for individuals or for an organization, can help measure the strengths and weaknesses of a subject, which in turn may dictate a future course toward improvement.
When measuring individuals, competency assessment is often used in hiring practices and performance reviews. Depending on the size of the business, the process may be carried out by an immediate supervisor, or may be the job of an entire human resources department. Competency assessment may be used to create targeted programs for employee performance improvement, or may help winnow out individuals with superior skills for promotion.
There are many different elements that may be used to perform a competency assessment. Personality tests are sometimes used to measure characteristics such as leadership, coping strategies, and organizational skills. Face-to-face interviews may help examiners get a more in-depth sense of the personal strengths and weaknesses of a worker or applicant. Tests can also be designed to measure specific knowledge, such as computer literacy, safety skills, or company protocol. These may be oral or written examinations, or they may be practical tests that require real-time action to measure competency at a task.
For jobs that include a high degree of stress, one segment of a competency assessment program may involve a psychological analysis by a licensed mental health professional. Jobs with a large physical component may require applicants to prove competency through a full medical physical or various strength and skill tests. While these tests may seem somewhat invasive, they can garner important information about the suitability of a candidate and the degree of risk that will be undertaken by putting a person in a high-stress position.
Competency assessment can also be done to measure the skill and effectiveness of a department, team, or entire business. In some cases, businesses will hire outside counsel to create an independent analysis. Tools for measuring competency on a large scale may include comparing real behaviors to company mission and protocol, observing the flow of cooperation and chain of command between departments, and reviewing training procedures throughout the organization. Using workplace-wide competency assessment can help highlight holes in the efficiency and effectiveness of a business that are easy for insiders to miss, and may help improve company image and performance overall.