6 Skills-Based Hiring Lessons to Bolster Your Talent Pipeline

May 16, 2023

By Kylie Parks, Arvada Chamber Director of Talent Pipeline Development

Recently, I was fortunate to participate in a 6-week Skills-Based Hiring series through the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The series was packed with a wealth of information on how to re-evaluate hiring practices to be more inclusive and more – to state the obvious – skills-based.

When hiring for a new position, consider taking on some of these best practices to increase your talent pipeline. 

  1. Define the Position’s Competencies 

Begin by identifying the competencies or skills that are essential for success in the role. This could include technical skills, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, teamwork, leadership, etc. Rank these competencies on if they are needed from day one or trainable (this will help define what is required versus preferred).

  1. Create your Job Ad 

A skills-based job ad should highlight knowledge, skills, and abilities versus degrees, work experience and certifications. To be clear: I just have to say it out loud, it’s okay to require a degree, if it is truly required. Avoid including preferred skills and focus on required skills. Instead of using “Qualifications” use “Required Competencies and Skills.”  

  1. Evaluate your Screening Process 

Keep in mind, there are plenty of ways to acquire knowledge. Take a self assessment of how you are screening resumes for experience. Instead of considering only those with directly related experience/titles, or degrees, consider the entire big picture of skills that person acquired over time. For example: If the position requires networking, does a degree truly showcase they are good at networking or someone who has worked in sales without a degree? 

  1. Keep your Interview Questions Focused on Skills 

Focus on interview questions that are designed to elicit responses that demonstrate the candidate’s proficiency in each competency. Ask questions that frame around experience and start with Tell me about a time…or If this situation occurred at work what would be your response? Avoid questions like: What is your relationship with your family? Or How clean is your car? Neither of those questions relate to how well someone can perform a job and questions like this create bias. 

  1. Leverage a Rubric for Interviewing 

Creating a rubric for your interview will also support eliminating bias and keeping it fair by placing skills required on a scale of need. This also helps when multiple team members are interviewing each candidate. 

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of Skills-Based Evaluations

This is a useful way to evaluate if what they are saying matches their skills. Just keep in mind the amount of time it takes: the longer you make an interview process, the higher your chances are for drop off. If presenting is an important part of the position, have them create a quick one page slide and present it! If typing fast is important, have them do a quick typing test. 

Skills-Based hiring is a transition and it is not easy. It will take time. If your business is currently doing skills-based hiring, we’d love to hear from you, and if you are just starting please feel free to reach out for support! Email me at Kylie@arvadachamber.org.

B.O.L.D. 2026 is a five-year regional economic strength and resiliency initiative of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber developed BOLD 2026 in consultation with private and public sector leaders and partners in Arvada, Jefferson / Adams Counties, Metro Denver and the state of Colorado. One goal of B.O.L.D. 2026 is to grow our talent to meet the needs of employers and job seekers. Learn more about our talent challenges and work here.


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