Critical Factors for Successful Skill-based Hiring

Andy Andrews

If you are interested in this topic, register for our free September 29th webinar: Attract Great People with Skill-based Hiring and Development

Last year in the US alone, 47.8 million workers quit their jobs, an average of nearly 4 million each month according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning 2021 holds the highest average number of resignations on record, topping the 2019 average of 3.5 million. These numbers represent a high number of job vacancies and a lower unemployment rate that characterise a very competitive job market; such market conditions are unlikely to be unique to the US.

An increasingly competitive job market leaves employers looking for any edge they can get when it comes to finding and hiring the best talent. At Lexonis, one recruitment strategy that we have found to be increasingly popular is skill-based recruitment. Rather than simply basing a decision to hire on the candidate’s qualifications, skill-based recruitment looks for evidence that they have already demonstrated the ability to perform specific tasks that model successful performance in their prospective job. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the factors to consider when taking this approach.

The cost of a ‘bad hire’

Before we begin with the critical success factors for a skill-based approach to hiring, it’s good to consider the impact that hiring the wrong employee can have. In the first instance, a bad hire can have a ripple effect on company morale and negatively impact the team’s performance.

However, a bad hire is costly, not just in terms of money but also in terms of time, energy, and resources. For instance, consider the cost of the interviewing manager’s time, and the new employee’s manager’s time to train them. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hire is up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings but others have estimated numbers far higher than that. There are also many statistics available regarding the financial cost of hiring the wrong person, it depends on which factors you decide to include.

Consider your internal talent pool

Before preparing that job posting why not consider the organisation’s existing talent pool? Recruitment doesn’t have to necessarily be external-facing. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to hiring an external candidate for a position. On the one hand, you may be able to find someone with the emerging skills and talent you need for the job, however, it can be expensive and time-consuming to bring in someone from the outside, and then there is the question of whether they fit your company culture. Consider whether you need to hire by seeing whether you can identify appropriately skilled internal candidates; it may make more sense to promote from within.

Recruiting internally can save you time and money and don’t underestimate how much of a morale booster it can be for your existing workforce. If you’re in a rapidly growing company within a fast-moving industry sector and you need someone with very specific skills, an external hire may be your best option, but if not, an internal candidate who you know will fit well into your team or company culture may be a better choice.

Whether an internal or external candidate, you need to use the right criteria to identify someone who will succeed in the job – the candidate’s skills.

Hire based on the right job criteria

With the availability of a global online job market, it may appear easier than ever to find talented employees from anywhere in the world. However, you still need to consider whether you are hiring the best person for the job. Do they have the skills that will help them to be successful in the job? You need to get specific about these skills. For instance, what level of technical expertise are you looking for? What about their business skills? You need to articulate their skills and competencies clearly to get this right.

A skill-based job profile will help you to do just that. A skill-based job profile is a document that sets out the specific skills and competencies that are required for successful performance in the job. It goes beyond a traditional job description by being more specific about the skills that are needed to be successful in the role. Make sure to also involve the hiring manager in the process of developing the skill-based job profile. They will be able to give you insights into the skills and competencies that are needed for the role.

This may seem like a lot of work but it will pay off. By being clear about the skills and competencies that are needed for the job, you will be able to identify candidates who are more likely to succeed in the role.

Don’t underestimate the importance of cultural fit

Organizational culture is the set of shared values, beliefs, and norms that shape how employees think, feel, and behave. When considering candidates for a new role, it’s critical to ask whether they will be a good fit with your organization’s culture. Do they demonstrate the right attitudes? If not, they may struggle to thrive in your company, no matter how talented or well-skilled they may be.

When making hiring decisions, always consider whether the candidate will be a good fit for your company culture by also considering their behavioural (otherwise known as their ‘soft skills’) competencies. You can’t visibly see whether they have “the right attitudes” but using evidence-based interviewing techniques, you can elicit the behaviours they have demonstrated in various situations.

Remember, past performance is an indicator of future success. So make sure to include behavioural competencies and their evidence, as well as technical skills in your interview or hiring guides. Otherwise, you may end up with an employee who is disengaged and unhappy and this may ultimately affect your other employees and hurt your bottom line.

Leverage skill-based interviewing techniques

Skill-based interviewing is a great way to identify a candidate who is the best fit for the job, whether internal or external. This type of interview focuses on the skills and abilities that are necessary for someone to be successful in the role.

To conduct a skill-based interview, begin by utilising the skill-based profile you have created for the job. Then create evidence-based interview questions that focus on the behaviours that the candidate has previously demonstrated for each of the skills and competencies required. Ask each candidate the questions that will allow you to assess them in these areas. The key is to ask each candidate the same questions so that you can compare their answers and make a fair assessment. This approach allows you to compare candidates fairly and make hiring decisions based on evidence.

At Lexonis, we provide a vast bank of interview questions associated with each competency in our framework library. These questions are used to dynamically generate skill-based interview guides that can be quickly edited for the specific position in mind. They provide an evidence-based approach to interviewing and consistency in the process.


Hiring someone is always a risk but focusing just on their qualifications and the contents of their resume represents a much higher risk. Taking the time and trouble to identify and interview candidates for the model skills and behaviours that are required for successful performance in the job reduces that risk and the potential of a bad hire.

If you would like to find out how implementing a skill-based approach can help boost your organisation’s hiring strategy, leverage your existing talent pipeline, and reduce turnover and the likelihood of making a bad hire, contact a Lexonis consultant today.

If you have found this blog helpful, register for our free September 29th webinar: Attract Great People with Skill-based Hiring and Development.

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