“Competence matrix” is a tool for preparing for an interview and/or a new position

“Competence matrix” is a tool for preparing for an interview and/or a new position

“What do employers now want from an applicant for a specific position? How well am I living up to those expectations?”

“How to write a resume correctly? What to emphasize?”

“What potential questions can I be asked at the interview? What is the best way to answer them?

What is required to apply for a new position?

In order to answer these and similar questions, I decided to create a matrix that would be an assistant for any applicant: it was illustrative, had all the necessary information, and at the same time would be easy to compile and use. I suggest you see what came out of it.

In the article, I give an example of filling for the position “Operations Director”.

Step #1 “Create a table”

Open Excel and create a table as shown below.

Step #2 “Collect functions and requirements for the position”

At this stage, we will review the vacancies and write out job duties (functions) and requirements for the candidate. To get relevant information, you need to collect information from at least 20 vacancies, but the more, the more accurate the final result will be.

So, the sequence of actions:

  1. We are opening a job search portal. Any portal will do: it doesn’t matter if you’re registered on the portal or not, if you use it to search or not – now the main thing is to collect as much information as possible. Therefore, I recommend using all possible portals to fill the required amount.
  2. We open the section for searching for vacancies.
  3. We open the settings for advanced search and specify Job title and Specifics (If there is such a possibility). Competencies within the same position can vary greatly, depending on the specifics. Yes, an operations manager in a restaurant and an operations manager in IT are 2 different skill sets. Therefore, we select only the specifics that you need. If the portal does not allow you to do this in the search query (filter) settings, you will simply need to ignore vacancies that are not related to the desired specifics.
  4. Save the filter and start the search.
  5. We open each proposed vacancy, review the “Job Responsibilities”, “Functions”, “Tasks” and “Candidate Requirements” blocks, and transfer the information to the “Detailed Description” column of your table.

Nuances regarding the implementation of point 5:

  • requirements for work experience (“work experience from …”), work schedule, conditions – we skip it. The purpose of the matrix is ​​to determine what competencies are required for the position and how well the candidate meets them. Therefore, everything that does not relate to skills and functions is ignored;
  • moving from job to job, you will come across similar requirements more and more often. I recommend that you don’t filter at this stage (“this is already recorded and this probably isn’t”) and just re-record it. This will avoid missing some requirements and describe the competence in more detail (in new words). In addition, it will help you in step #4, when you will determine the importance of this or that competency;
  • We look at vacancies in all regions. Do not set a filter by region and do not screen out vacancies based on this principle.

I will honestly admit that while writing this article, I did not look at 20 vacancies, but looked at only 3. At the exit, I managed to fill the table like this:

Step #3 “Define competencies and group the description”

So, we have compiled a list of job requirements. But as you may have noticed, all these requirements and descriptions of functions cannot yet be called the word “Competencies” simply because they describe competencies and are not them. Therefore, in step #3, we must write the appropriate competence for each description.

For example, to the description “Systematize all processes” I indicated the competence “Management of business processes”. And to the description “Conducting a competitive analysis and generating ideas for improving business processes”, I indicated two competencies: “SWOT analysis” and again “Management of business processes”.

When you complete the competencies in all descriptions, many competencies will be repeated in different parts. Therefore, as a next step, you need to group the description of the repeating competencies in such a way that there is only one Competency (column 1), and there may be several descriptions in it (column 2). For example, the competence “Management of business processes” suits me several descriptions at once. I indicated all these descriptions in one cell of the table (see the first line on the chest below).

The output should look like this:

Step #4 “Determine the importance of competencies”

The next step is to determine the importance of each of the competencies for this position. For this, I suggest using the following levels of importance:

  • Critical — required (mentioned) in 99% of vacancies
  • High — required in 80% of vacancies
  • Intermediate — required in 50% of vacancies
  • Low — required in 20% of vacancies

You can use other degrees, but I would not complicate it.

Importantly! Unfortunately, job postings may miss critical competencies that are important for the position. This is due to the fact that when describing a vacancy, recruiters consider it unnecessary to specify requirements that they think are self-evident. For example, Sales Manager jobs may omit requirements for sales and negotiation skills, as if the job title itself suggests this.

The output should look like this:

Step #5 “Filling in experience and achievements”

As a final step, we need to go through each of the competencies and indicate what specific experience you have in it and what your achievements are. Write freely, but in a structured way if possible, as this will help you prepare for interviews.

Importantly! Since you are making the table yourself, write the truth and decorate it. You must clearly understand where you have a “gap” and what to emphasize in your preparation.

The output should look like this:


After spending a few hours, you will have a matrix with competencies that are relevant for the vacancy you are interested in, and most importantly, are in demand on the market.

Application of the matrix:

  1. Resume writing assistant. One of the most common mistakes in creating a resume is the inclusion of competencies and functions without reference to the position. This is partly due to a lack of understanding of what will be useful in the position and what will not. A properly composed matrix solves this issue and helps emphasize the most important.
  2. Interview assistant. As I wrote at the beginning, a huge number of candidates get lost on questions related to past experience and the use of competencies. And this is not always related to a lack of experience. Many simply forget about this experience, and when trying to remember on the go, give a vague unstructured answer (which makes you doubt the experience). Therefore, you can simply open the table at the online interview and read your notes if necessary.
  3. Highlights weak areas. For those competencies in which you lack experience, achievements and simple knowledge (seeing them for the first time), you will be able to draw up a training plan and, possibly, application in practice (for example, at your current workplace if you have not yet resigned).
  4. analytical tool. In companies, the question of conducting an analysis of the salary market often arises. A table like this can be easily adapted to the analysis of the PO by adding a column with the amount of the reward. In this way, you will be able to regularly analyze your competitors’ CVs for a specific position.
  5. Transition plan to a new position. Perhaps you are thinking about changing the position and specifics. Compiling such a table will allow you to gather requirements and adequately assess your path in this direction.

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