Competencemethod

Requirement profile

The ability to “fit in” is attributed to great importance in the recruitment process, by both employers and recruitment companies, and is described as a requirement for social skills. As the ability is mainly measured through interviews and references, there is a great deal of room for subjective interpretations, which has been shown to disadvantage the group of foreign-born people (Wolgast 2017). Begin, among other things, by ensuring that everyone involved has the same view of the recruitment process and what it should be based on.

Innehåll:

A) Reconciliation of approaches, diversity and inclusion – internal and external

B) Competence-based needs analysis

C) Design the requirement profile without systematically excluding

D) Questioning routine requirements

By requiring references from previous workplaces, specific educations, that exist for example only at selected universities, and diffuse language requirements in Swedish, many job seekers from the group foreign-born people are already excluded in the requirement profile. In a study, Jens Rydgren (2004) describes how institutional discrimination is about when overall and seemingly neutral demands affect a specific group more than other groups, for example based on country of birth or ethnicity. An example of this is when requirements in the Swedish language become arbitrary.



If there is a requirement for Swedish […] then they need someone who is fluent Swedish, someone who is born in Sweden.

/ Economist Middle East

Results from Phase 1 showed that jobseekers from the group of foreign-born academics feel that the language requirements in job ads are often described in general terms, which leaves room for arbitrary interpretations both by the jobseeker and by the recruiter. Writing that the applicant should “master the Swedish language well in speech and writing” is not a measurable knowledge requirement. Instead, employers are asked to specify the language level required for the advertised service.



It is hard to find jobs that match the right skills. If you have different educations from different countries, it can be difficult to translate your education. I have read biology, but here I was told that my education was Food Science. It is hard to translate directly.

/ Biolog Africa

Most of the focus group participants, who say they work based on a competency-based recruitment process, also signal that it is difficult in practice to realize a competency-based approach in every step of the process. But a well-thought-out requirement profile can then be an important support.

According to Lindelöw, competence refers to the skills that people use to achieve what is required in a given situation. (4) It may include education, knowledge, work experience and other experiences. It may also include social skills such as ability to work, service-mindedness and care. A well-thought-out requirement profile can serve as support for creating a competency-based recruitment process if you let it act as a guiding star throughout the process. It should be able to guide how the service is designed, how and where it is advertised, any tests, interview guide, assessment criteria and so on.

This can be part of the solution to overcome both discrimination and accidental exclusion. Therefore, the requirements need to be clearly formulated and sufficiently specific to avoid being misinterpreted or open to arbitrariness. The fact that the employer focuses on the candidate’s competence rather than “just going on a gut feeling” and is based on subjective values, for example the candidate’s cultural background, was also one of the most prominent wishes of the foreign-born academics who participated in Phase 1.

The reference to just “going on gut feeling” has been a constantly recurring description of what ultimately determines decisions in a recruitment process.

There is possibly nothing that can be ignored or protected against. It may not even be desirable. At the same time, this was one of the areas that led to the most discussions among all the groups involved in the preparation of this report. There does not seem to be a consistent answer for how this should be handled. However, a well-thought-out requirement profile can act as support here, by striving to formulate the “gut feeling”; the subjective, otherwise unspoken, perhaps diffuse “requirements”. Adopt a self-critical approach and strive for inclusion and exclusion criteria that are free from arbitrariness, which prevents discrimination and unintentional exclusion.

Recruiters who participated in the focus groups describe how recruiting managers can have very specific requirements that can be indirect or directly discriminatory. The requirements for a recruiter to challenge these types of requirements from a manager were widely varied. Therefore, knowledge about competency-based recruitment and discrimination legislation is required, as well as support in reconciliations within the recruitment group.

A) Do: Reconciliation of approaches, diversity and inclusion – internal and external

How:

• Create consensus within the recruitment group on what a competency-based recruitment is. Important here is to include the recruiting manager.

• Put words to the unspoken requirements early in the process. Question each other’s requirements.

• Raise questions about diversity and inclusion in the light of the business’s values. Above all, it is important in the relationship between the organization and any external recruiter, as both sides can clarify their values and how to work actively not to discriminate.

• Foreign-born academics we interviewed generally demand greater diversity among recruiters and suggest that employees with foreign backgrounds are more involved in the recruitment process

Why: To ensure that everyone involved has the same view of the recruitment process and what it should be based on. To avoid discrimination and to make the process as consistent and objective as possible. Experience from recruiters who work daily with recruitment shows that if subjective or discriminatory requirements exist, it is important that they are addressed early in the process.

It is in connection with the requirement profile that several recruiters in Kantar Sifo’s focus groups emphasize that there are risks of discrimination and unintentional exclusion. Groups can be excluded by too specific requirements. But it is also here that they say that there are opportunities to challenge the requirements and open up to more potential candidates. Recruiters push the value of personal meetings to ensure the view of inclusion and discrimination between recruiters and those who decide on employment, both internally and externally. This is important in order to challenge pre-conceived sentences that can lead to discrimination later in the process. It can also be a way of dealing with managers who want to have a lot of influence in the process but who do not base on skills but have other, often unspoken, personal values ​​that govern. In these situations, recruiters say that it is important to confront these requirements as early as possible in the process.

B) Do: Competence-based needs analysis

How:

  • Perform a needs analysis through a strategic process where either the need for a specific service or competence is formulated. Regardless, care must be taken not to systematically exclude groups on the basis of discrimination. For example, foreign-born academics have proposed for Kantar Sifo that businesses can gather tasks that do not require high competence in Swedish but other qualifications for creating new services.
  • The needs analysis can be based on a specific service, but can also be based on what the business currently has and lacks, both in terms of skills and people. Key persons describe how, at an initial stage, they ask the question, does the inside reflect the outside? It can be especially important in customer-close businesses, to have expertise on the inside that understands all target groups on the outside.
  • Use data and measurement tools to measure both the outside and the inside of the business. When formulating needs, tools for competency-based processes such as Lindelöws can be used to ensure that the starting point is in competence. (3)

Why: To clarify what needs for expertise exist within the business.

Studies show that a systematic and structured way of working in the recruitment process leads to a greater focus on the job seeker’s competence and that discrimination is reduced. (8) Key persons with whom Kantar Sifo has held talks, describe how they have seen a business benefit by having employees with a broad background to reach and understand more target groups.

C) Do: Design the requirement profile without systematically excluding

How:

• Clearly describe what the employment entails or what skills are being sought. Clarify the requirements and specify which are the requirements and which are the merits. Does the language requirement need to be at a specific level? An excessively narrow requirement profile could systematically and unintentionally exclude certain groups.

• Rank the requirements according to which are the most important to succeed with the duties of the employment and then give the requirements different values. It is extra important here as a recruiter to ensure, together with the recruiting manager, what are requirements and what is merit.

• Based on the requirements, think about whether and when tests will best fit into the process. Can it be an idea in the first phase to do tests that focus on the required skills?

• Review the requirements together with everyone involved in the process, and dare to question each other’s requirements. Do an impact assessment; if we have these requirements – which do we exclude?

Why: To focus the recruitment on the basis of competence and get the right and relevant skills. Foreign-born academics in focus groups conducted by Kantar Sifo often find that the requirement to “fit into the group” is vaguely worded and weighs heavier than specific skills and experiences. They also feel that the requirement for “fluent Swedish” is unclear, discourages applicants and is arbitrarily used by employers.



I think it has to be based on knowledge. … Knowledge is a global factor. Math in Sweden is the same as in China.

/ Foreign born academic in Workshop

D) Do: Questioning routine requirements

How:

• Review the requirements for the employment and think through what is necessary, based on the needs analysis and how it can best be expressed. Keep in mind that the requirements should be as objective and transparent as possible.

• Involve several people in the process, preferably with different backgrounds, in order to avoid systematic unintentional exclusion. Jointly review the requirements together with all involved and dare to question each other and the requirements. Do an impact assessment; if we state these requirements, who do we include or exclude?

• GDPR has got many recruiters asking which requirements and questions are being asked to the candidates. Do we have the right to save the collected data, which the candidate later has the right to request?

• Review the requirements for the employment and think through what is necessary, based on the needs analysis and how it can best be expressed. Keep in mind that the requirements should be as objective and transparent as possible.

• Involve several people in the process, preferably with different backgrounds, in order to avoid systematic unintentional exclusion. Jointly review the requirements together with all involved and dare to question each other and the requirements. Do an impact assessment; if we state these requirements, who do we include or exclude?

• GDPR has got many recruiters asking which requirements and questions are being asked to the candidates. Do we have the right to save the collected data, which the candidate later has the right to request?



I find that many customers cannot give a relevant explanation as to why they need a person who knows Swedish, but it is because they feel comfortable and do not dare to speak English and there I can feel that there is discrimination.

/ Recruiter in focus group

Why: Research shows that requirements such as “fluent Swedish” can become discriminatory when it is vaguely described and then opens up to arbitrariness. (3, 4) In order to avoid using slant-based requirements, such as “fluent Swedish” or “social competence”, which may seem structurally discriminatory. Is it possible instead to find more specific wording, exactly what level in Swedish is needed and what is meant by social skills?



Make sure to include at least one “foreign” colleague in the ‘recruitment work team’ to ensure that the selection of interviewees are not culturally/ racially biased.

/ Foreign born academic in Workshop

Read more about the development of the method and the sources >

With support from

In collaboration with

Partner