How to Identify Core Competencies in Candidates

Posted by Steve Thomas , Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada on Thursday, March 9, 2023

When it comes to hiring, employers can often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications they receive. It can be difficult to narrow down the candidate pool and identify which candidates are the most qualified for the role.

In this blog post, we will explore how to identify core competencies in candidates so that you can make the best hiring decisions for your organisation.

What Are Core Competencies?

Core competencies are a specific set of capabilities that a company desires in employees to help it succeed in business. They include both hard skills (those that can be learned through training or education) and soft skills (those that come from personality traits). Examples of core competencies include people & communication skills, behaviour traits, thinking style, job-specific skills, leadership traits and company-specific traits.

Identifying Core Competencies in Candidates  

When reviewing CVs from prospective candidates it is important to look beyond the standard format and qualification requirements. To identify which candidates have the core competencies necessary for success in the role you must read between the lines of their CV. Look for evidence of relevant experiences that demonstrate core competency such as participating on teams or leading on projects; research carried out; awards received; etc.

You should also consider if they have included any relevant additional activities such as volunteering or extracurricular activities which could indicate other key competencies needed for success in the role such as problem solving or collaboration with others. It is important to note that candidates may not always explicitly state their core competency but instead may simply list their experience and leave it up to you to draw out the evidence of these key strengths yourself. 

It is also useful to ask questions during interviews which give opportunity for further exploration of these areas e.g., “What was one example where you had to use your management experience?” This will give deeper insight into understanding how they operate within certain contexts and therefore better assess if they have the necessary core competences required for success in the role.                                                                                                   


Selecting qualified candidates with strong abilities is just part of making great hires—it's important to consider their core competencies when making final decisions about who gets a job offer.  By reading between the lines on CVs and resumes and asking targeted interview questions during interviews, employers can get a clearer picture on whether a candidate has the right mix of qualities needed for success in the role. Having an awareness of what core competences are necessary for success in roles will enable employers make better informed hiring decisions based on assessing more than just traditional qualifications criteria alone.  

If you want help developing a core competency strategy for success for specific roles, we can help!

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada
Maxim Recruitment

Steve is responsible for Maxim Recruitment in the UK. He is based in the Maxim head office in Leicester, Leicestershire and regularly travels to meet employers, job seekers and to attend construction industry networking events all over the UK. With over 20 years' experience in construction and property recruitment he works with a number of repeat clients and engages in search and headhunting assignments for a range of premium UK and international clients.