The MSD Competency Framework can be used to improve hiring processes for MSD programmes. This page focuses on using assessment guidance to redesign interviews around the key MSD competencies – through targeted interview questions or customised case study scenarios.
Managers and HR professionals who are involved in the design and implementation of hiring processes for MSD practitioners.
Benefits of using the Competency Framework for hiring
- Help focus on the core competencies necessary for the job
- Test candidates ability to think and make decisions about complex information
- Attract and encourage non-typical candidates, including those without formal qualifications or MSD experience
- Create energy and excitement about hiring
- Familiarise yourself with the 17 MSD Competencies. Read through the definitions to get a sense of what they’re about beyond the title.
- Skim the overarching guidance for Assessment modes:
a. Traditional interview questions
b. Presentation of case analysis
c. Direct observation of practice
- Take stock of the hiring process, timeline and other people involved.
- Be realistic about your time investment.
Step 1: Prioritise competencies (starting with an existing job description)
- Read the job description and highlight or make notes of different competencies
- Tally/list - try to get it down to 3-5 'key' competencies
- Make a judgment call - what’s at the core?
Step 2: Capture information on the key competencies
- Copy and paste definitions of priority competencies into a document
- Create a table to keep track of assessment guidance
Step 3: Shortlist top interview questions
- Look at the guidance for Traditional interview questions for each of the priority competencies
- Highlight or combine questions that seem appropriate
- Generate other questions based on the suggestions and your knowledge of the specific position
Step 4: Develop a case scenario (optional)
- Select a case that represents a typical practical challenge that someone in the role might face
- Identify existing programme documentation that you can use without needing to modify substantially.
Length of document should reflect expectations for the role e.g. technical field staff 5-10 pages; adviser/manager: 15-20 pages
- Generate questions that map onto the key competencies.
Include some broad questions that will be given to candidates to prepare e.g. 'present your analysis of the key market failures and possible interventions'. Also develop prepared follow-up questions to probe candidate thinking e.g. 'what are your two biggest assumptions in your analysis, and what information would you gather to test them?'
Step 5: Prepare documentation and share internally and externally
- Prepare questions and framing to send to candidates
- Develop table with key competencies to share with hiring team to focus decision-making discussions and deliberations
- Send to candidates with appropriate notice (some hiring managers prefer to avoid long lead times so candidates do not over prepare)
Step 6: Conduct interview and make hiring selection
- Focus on asking probing questions; take detailed notes
- Use key competencies to guide debrief discussions with hiring team
- Provide feedback to all candidates who interviewed - use competency language and examples to help them improve
Example - Mercy Corps in Ethiopia
Developing interview questions and a customised case scenario for hiring a National MSD Adviser
Will Baron, Director of Programs at MercyCorps Ethiopia, was supporting the hiring process for a national level MSD adviser in the Ethiopia country office. He decided to use the MSD Competency Framework to broaden the candidate pool and focus on the ability to succeed in the role, rather than merely years of experience.
Through a collaborative process, working with the BEAM Exchange, we analysed the posted job description and arrived at a short list of priority competencies for the role:
These competencies led to a short list of interview questions which were integrated into the other questions developed by the full hiring committee.
In addition, a customised case study was developed around a common scenario whereby the MSD Adviser needed to support specific programmes in adapting their strategy to work with a key lead firm. This enabled Will and the team to test candidates’ knowledge of MSD itself (Group A and B), as well as the human and leadership skills (Group C) required to perform at a high level.
Ultimately, they selected a strong candidate who is currently in the role. This example shows the effort - and the reward- of investing in a redesigned hiring process.