MSD Competency Framework

Guidance for hiring and recruitment

Using targeted interview questions or customised case study scenarios

MSD competencies

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.

Target Audience:
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

Before Starting

  1. Familiarise yourself with the 17 MSD Competencies. Read through the definitions to get a sense of what they’re about beyond the title.
  2. Skim the overarching guidance for Assessment modes:
    a. Traditional interview questions
    b. Presentation of case analysis
    c. Direct observation of practice
  3. Take stock of the hiring process, timeline and other people involved.
  4. Be realistic about your time investment.

Step-by-step guidance

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


Additional Resources