Competency Insight

Competencies and Self Reporting

One of the most frequent questions we get asked when demoing the SkillBank platform goes like this: “Aren’t you worried about people exaggerating their skills and experience?”

The answer is a bit complicated, so we thought we’d spell it out in a blog post.

Why self reporting?

The short answer is… self reporting allows us to capture competency data quickly and easily. The other options are testing/assessment or observation. Both of those data collection options are long and arduous (and have their own flaws).

By allowing your current and prospective employees to self report their competencies, we quickly unlock a vast library of foundational data from which we bring you actionable insight

Resumes are self-reported too

Typically, when people ask us about competency reporting accuracy, our first response is, “What are you using now?” The typical answer is the candidate’s resume. To which we reply, “Ever run into a resume that mis-states candidate skills and experience? The answer is ALWAYS yes!

Fact is, people exaggerate, misrepresent and outright lie about prior jobs and experience. Studies indicate anywhere from 66% – 85% of candidates lie or stretch the truth during the hiring process. So whether someone is mis-stating their competencies on or on their resume… mis-representation is a fact of life only solved by costly and time consuming third-party certifications.

People who lie about their competencies will be discovered soon enough and their dishonesty is more likely to hurt THEM than their employer.

Take for instance a candidate who lies about their Excel ability and how much they like to do data analysis. Imagine they get a data analyst job and spend the next few weeks struggling to do tasks they are not able to do in a field they don’t want to work. They’ll lose that job pretty quickly and that won’t look good on their resume.

Both they and their employer would be far better off if instead of dishonesty, they put out the effort to build the right skills.

The Dunning-Kruger effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is far more dangerous to the competency-centric model than outright dishonesty. The Dunning-Kruger effect is essentially the overestimation of ones’ competencies due to ignorance.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

— Charles Darwin

Those who overestimate their competencies lack both the knowledge AND self-awareness to understand their own deficiencies.

We see this as an opportunity instead of a problem.

It invites self-reflection and introspection into the hiring and talent development process. It allows for managers to have meaningful conversations with their employees about the strengths and weaknesses they (the managers) see in their employees.

Skill level is not the only indicator

Our system provides helpful competency reference markers so people have points of reference when they rank themselves. This allows them to really evaluate where they are. However, even with this system the skill level on any particular competency will always be a best guess more than an exact science.

That’s why we use a two dimensional ranking system.

We consider it essential to know not only how skilled a person is, but we want to know their level of interest in USING that skill.

While the upper slider is susceptible to the Dunning-Kruger effect, the lower one is far less. By combining these two signals, we help detect and solve for the Dunning-Kruger effect while incentivizing people to tell the truth.

While no system will ever be perfect, we’re confident our approach brings the human resources industry closer than ever to having quick, clear, data informed signals about the competencies of your staff and job applicants!

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