What is Competence?

Definition: Competence is a set of attributes required to perform a particular activity. In other words, they are a collection of skills that an individual needs to complete a task.

What Does Competence Mean in Business?

Competencies are essential to evaluate an individual’s capacity to fulfill a particular task or job position. In human resources, competencies are mostly divided as knowledge, skills or behavioral competencies. There are many other ways to classify them but this simple structure should be useful to explain the reach of the concept.

An individual might possess the knowledge (theoretical) to do something but he might not possess the skills (practical) to perform the task at hand. On the other hand attitude (behavior) can also affect the outcome obtained. As you can see, competencies are a tool to identify a person’s capacity to deliver an expected result. This is the reason why a human resources department should identify, train and evaluate each employee’s competencies to match their abilities with available jobs.

After establishing the required competencies of a job, a human resources department can also evaluate the existence of these competencies on each individual being interviewed, to see if they are the best choice for the job.


National Kitchens LLC is a company that manufactures kitchen appliances for both domestic and industrial purposes. The company is currently looking to hire a Personal Assistant for one of its top executives. The Personnel Department established three main competencies that a person should possess to be considered as a potential candidate for this job position. The competencies are the following: The person must be organized, result-driven and proactive.

The individual doing the recruiting process (interviewing and assessing) should find a way to evaluate the existence of these abilities on each of the candidates being considered. This will increase the chances of getting the right person for the job.