Businesses use competency mapping to match the capabilities and talent of personnel with specific job tasks and organizational needs. The technique involves conducting a job analysis to identify core skills and behaviors required to perform the role, drafting a job description based on the key competencies and aligning resources to best fulfill competency needs. Having a competency map makes it easier for firms to identify qualified candidates, assess performance, focus training efforts and enhance overall productivity. Common competency mapping approaches include assessment center, critical incidents technique, interviewing, questionnaires and psychometric tests.

Assessment Center

The assessment center methodology involves situational observation to evaluate performance and growth potential of candidates relative to specified job attributes. The approach uses various types of discussion and simulation exercises to reflect real-life demands of the job. Candidates are asked to work through certain scenarios while a trained assessor observes their behavior. The situations are designed to reveal skills and aptitude that help identify which individuals are good matches for the current and future requirements of the job.

Critical Incidents Technique

The critical incidents technique uses data gathering and analysis to identify job-specific behaviors that influence the success or failure of an individual or collective business operation performing a certain job. Data about critical events – exceptional examples of accomplishment or failure – is collected through interviews or questionnaires as soon as possible after occurrence. The incidents are then categorized according to associated job behaviors to reveal patterns of performance gaps and strengths.

Personal Interviews

The candidate interview provides first-hand insight into candidate behaviors and is an effective method for collecting relevant information and impressions about prospective employees. Interviewers should be prepared with targeted questions that not only draw out details about tangible job experiences but also give clues about the candidate’s general motivation, disposition and outlook. The interview record can be compared against the competency map created for the job to determine which candidate offers the best match for the organization’s needs.


Questionnaires offer another approach for gathering information about job competencies and work performance. Several types used in competency mapping include the common metric questionnaire that highlights work requirements and activities, functional job analysis that describes job duties and characteristics, occupational analysis inventory that specifies work elements for almost all occupations, position analysis questionnaire that ties job characteristics to human characteristics and work profiling system that measures ability and personality attributes. The multipurpose occupational system analysis inventory highlights tasks and competencies for government jobs.

Psychometric Tests

Psychometric testing provides a consistent approach to measuring and quantifying a sample of behavioral attributes. The two main types of psychometric assessment are aptitude tests and achievement tests. Aptitude tests are used to identify natural inclinations in a specific area, such as art or science, and are designed to help predict how well a person would perform in a given specialty after being provided with training. Achievement tests measure the level of proficiency an individual has achieved in a certain area, such as mathematics, language skills and ability to reason.