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What are Competencies? List of Key Competencies & Examples

Competency and Skills – What the Differences are & List of Examples

Having the right competency and skills in whatever you’re doing is a major thing that needs to be looked upon. However, most people don’t understand the difference between the two. So, what are the differences between competency and skills? And what are some examples of each?

In this article, we will be looking at the differences and a list of examples for both to help you understand them better. By getting a better meaning of the two terms, you will be able to make an informed decision when you are looking to achieve your goals.

What’s the Difference Between Competencies Vs. Skills

There are many differences between competency and skills. Below, we have listed just a few of them.


  1. Competencies describe the patterns of behavior that are required to achieve a goal or complete a task.
  2. Competencies do not stay the same even if the skill to complete a task may remain the same.
  3. Competencies are the personal traits that an individual has that make one person better or worse than another.
  4. Competencies are the patterns of behavior required to help you understand how your job fits into the grand scheme of things and how it affects other jobs.
  5. Competencies are sometimes referred to as the ‘how’ to do something rather than the ‘what.’


  1. Skills are an acquired capability to carry out a task successfully.
  2. Skills relate to specific tasks and activities and do not change easily.
  3. Skills can be classified as hard skills and soft skills, with hard skills being more technical in nature and soft skills being social.
  4. Skills can be seen as a subset of competencies, which is why it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the two.
  5. Skills are also known as task-related or technical behavior, and most often, they can be taught and learned through training and practice.

Leadership Examples for Competency and Skills

Leaders need to have a wide variety of competencies and skills to run their organization successfully.


  1. Progressive leadership – This is where you can take your lead from others but still show that you are willing to embrace change and act upon it.
  2. Active listening – Leaders need to listen carefully to what employees have to say, even if they disagree with it or don’t like it.
  3. A sense of vision – Setting the direction for an entire team or organization is a crucial aspect of being a leader, so having some idea of where the company should end up is required.
  4. Ability to adapt & improvise – No two situations will ever be exactly alike, and leaders are required to change their approach to accomplish their goals.
  5. The ability to make decisions – One of the key aspects of being a leader is making timely and effective decisions, even when they could have an impact on other people’s work or lives.


  1. Conflict resolution – Leaders need to resolve conflicts that occur among employees, often through formal mediation processes and other types of conflict management programs or policies that have been put into place within their organization.
  2. Crisis management – Different situations can arise, requiring a leader to handle them as quickly as possible so as not to let them escalate out of control. Situations such as natural disasters, accidents, etc…
  3. Decision making – A significant aspect of being a leader is to make timely and effective decisions, even if they could affect other people’s lives or work.
  4. Ability to motivate employees – One of the key aspects of being a leader is motivating others around you to help them succeed in their jobs and feel fulfilled in what they do daily.
  5. Team building – Leaders need to build strong, cohesive teams so that everyone can work well together for the betterment of the organization.

Tests and Assessments for Determining Competencies and Skills

There are many assessments that you can complete to separate competencies from skills. Let’s have a look at the most popular.

Competency Assessment Tools

  1. HIGH5 Competency test – measures your strengths, talents and traits that can highlight your competencies.
  2. A popular one is the Johari Window, which is a method that can help you to tell the difference between what people see as your ‘public self’ and what they see as your ‘private self.’
  3. The Nine Belbin Team Roles is used to measure your self-perception in nine key areas that are elements of the Belbin Team Role Index.
  4. The Myers Briggs Indicator – This assessment was developed to measure different personality types in people to help them understand themselves better and also how they interact with others around them.
  5. The Five-Factor Model – This assessment focuses on five different areas of competency: conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to new experiences, extraversion, and neuroticism.
  6. The Learning Orientation Questionnaire – This helps you understand your work style preference in four different ways.

Skills Assessment Tools

When it comes to skills assessment, there is a wide range of tools that you can choose from. Some of them include:

  1. HIGH5 Skills Test – This helps you find out your primary skills to help yourself or someone you know achieve their goals and reach their potential in life and work.
  2. The Point and Click Approach – Using this assessment, you will be asked to answer technical questions that deal with specific tasks or activities related to your role.
  3. Behavioral Event Interview – In this type of interview, you will be asked to describe a situation where you encountered an issue and how you handled it.
  4. Behavioral Job Interview – Similar to the Behavioral Event Interview, in this type of interview, you will be given a scenario involving a problem that occurred at work and then asked how you would have handled it.
  5. The Situation & Task-Based Format – In this type of interview, you will be asked to describe a situation where you encountered an issue and how you handled it.

List of 10 Most Common Competencies and Skills

List of 10 Most Common Competency

  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Communication skills
  • Critical Thinking / Problem-Solving / Decision-Making Processes
  • Creative thinking
  • Motivation & Inspiration
  • Flexibility & Adaptability to change 
  • Attention to Detail
  • Achievement Orientation

List of 10 Most Common Skills

Competencies or Skills – What Is More Important?

Skills and competencies are both important to employers, but they can change depending on the position.

Skills refer more to technical knowledge of a role, while competencies are more about how someone behaves or interacts with others in that area. For example, say you work at a call center, and your job is to answer customer service questions.

Depending on what type of company you work for and where you want to go next will determine if starting with skills or competencies when writing a resume is more effective.

If working in this environment requires handling calls professionally and collaboratively with customers, then there would be good qualities for an employer to see on paper.

On the other hand, if you were applying for a new role where part of your job would be to prioritize projects and respond to emails, the technical skills needed for that role would take precedence over competencies.

How to Answer an Interview about Skills and Competencies

Skills and competencies are important to be highlighted on a resume. They are important to portray your skills in the best possible light.

If you want to communicate your skills better, create keywords that will help demonstrate why you are the best person for the job. Think of words that will draw attention to what you can offer an employer.


  • I can handle multiple projects at once, as seen in my history of working with high volumes of clients.
  • My background in managing customer service has given me strong communication and interpersonal skills that will help me be successful in your company.
  • In all positions I have held, I have shown a record of meeting strict deadlines and performing tasks to a high standard within a short timeframe.
  • Good organizational skills are important for success in any job role, which is why they were key components for my previous roles as an analyst.

Competency FAQ

What are your skills and abilities?

Skills are specific abilities or expertise that an individual possesses. Skills can be related to any activity done repeatedly or continuously over some time.

For example, cooking, driving, playing sports, and using computer programs are all skills. Abilities are innate qualities in individuals to do something better than others.

For instance, playing cricket is not necessarily different from the other players just because you have practiced it well.

Still, there could be some differences like the height of the player or their knowledge about a technique that may help them score well and contribute to the team’s victory.

What is the difference between skill and ability?

An individual can possess skills but notabilities. For example, speaking good English is an ability, whereas Spanish language knowledge is only a skill.

On the other hand, someone may have the ability to do something well but not necessarily have any skills in that area.

For instance, being good at cooking does not require skill but one needs to learn about various recipes and how they are made before cooking them well, which involves a lot of practice over time to cook them perfectly.

How can I become competent?

Being competent means possessing the required or sufficient power or qualities for achieving success. One should realize what they lack to grow more confident by acquiring those skills through learning from others or practicing them over time.


In conclusion, we can say that skills and competencies are both important to employers, but they can change depending on the position.

Skills refer more to technical knowledge of a role, while competencies are more about how someone behaves or interacts with others in that area.

By keeping the information mentioned above at the back of your mind, you should successfully gain skills and acquire the required competencies that will help you stand out amongst other candidates and eventually land the job of your dreams.

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