Knowledge Center

Definitions for the Core Area

Experiential – Achieving specific higher ed HR skills from experience or learning

Each competency within the Core area can aid in achieving:

  • professional and personal bests
  • stakeholder buy-in, acceptance and value
  • team, institution and community results

At any given time, proficiency for each competency will fall at some point along the outer ring of the framework: Awareness, Application, Mastery, Influence.

The following competency definitions are offered as a guide and are to be used in conjunction with your institution's interpretation of how these competencies can be applied on your campus. 



Knowledge of key concepts, regulations and practices related to the administration of employment benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, injury compensation, wellness programs, paid leave and other employee benefit programs.

In Action
  • Ensuring benefit programs and procedures meet organizational needs
  • Maintaining program compliance with both federal and state regulations including (but not limited to):
    • Social Security
    • Medicare
    • Workers’ Compensation
    • Unemployment Compensation
    • COBRA
    • Family and Medical Leave
  • Determining employee eligibility for all applicable company benefit programs
  • Using best practices to maintain accurate and secure records
  • Providing education and information to employees regarding company benefit programs
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have with benefits administration?
  • How familiar are you with federal and state laws related to employment benefits?
  • How comfortable are you communicating information related to your company’s benefit programs to employees?
  • How comfortable are you addressing employee questions and solving employee problems regarding company benefit programs?
  • Are you able to determine an employee’s eligibility for certain programs or benefits, such as FMLA, company health insurance, workers’ compensation, etc.?
  • How comfortable are you communicating with benefit program providers?



Knowledge of strategies, practices and regulations related to the creation and administration of an organization’s pay and reward structures.

In Action
  • Understanding of organization’s compensation philosophy and structure
  • Developing or interpreting policies that guide compensation practices including;
    • Hours of work
    • Flexible work
    • Overtime
    • Shift work
    • Bonus or merit pay
    • Hazard pay
  • Regularly assessing organizational pay structures to ensure equity
  • Maintaining compliance with federal and state compensation regulations, such as FLSA
  • Analyzing market data to construct competitive compensation packages that attract, retain and reward talent
  • Evaluating and assigning positions to appropriate salary range
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have with developing total compensation packages?
  • Are you familiar with the non-salary-based compensation your organization offers?
  • How familiar are you with FLSA regulations?
  • What experience do you have with communicating total compensation packages to potential candidates?
  • Have you participated in internal or market pay equity analysis?
  • Do you have experience managing the compensation plans of a public institution?
  • Do you have experience managing the compensation plans of a private or corporate organization?



Knowledge of the concepts, strategies, practices and regulations utilized in the identification and selection of talent.

In Action
  • Ensuring all parts of the recruitment process are compliant with all state and federal regulations including (but not limited to):
    • Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act)
    • Title IX (of the Education Amendments)
    • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
    • ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)
    • USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act)
  • Creating and leading outreach strategies to source talent
  • Conducting interviews with potential candidates to assess candidate fit
  • Participating in or guiding search/selection committees
  • Extending offers of employment to selected candidates
Assessment Questions
  • What strategies have you utilized to source external talent?
  • What strategies have you utilized to source internal talent?
  • What experience do you have interviewing candidates?
  • Have you been a part of a search/selection committee?
  • How comfortable are you advising supervisors on hiring practices and decisions?
  • How comfortable are you negotiating with candidates?

Employee/Labor Relations


The function of maintaining and mediating the relationship between employee and employer, with a particular focus on problem solving, conflict resolution and compliance.

In Action
  • Assisting both employees and management in policy interpretation and application
  • Working collaboratively with employees to address workplace concerns
  • Advising management on employee conduct or performance issues
  • Conducting confidential workplace investigations
  • Administering and monitoring disciplinary action and improvement plans
  • Administering and communicating employee recognition and awards programs
Assessment Questions
  • How comfortable are you with explaining your institution’s policies to others?
  • How familiar are you with managing conflict between employees?
  • How familiar are you with managing conflict between an employee and a supervisor?
  • What experience do you have in managing performance activities?
  • Do you have experience conducting or overseeing confidential investigations?
  • How current is your knowledge of major regulations (ex: ADA, FMLA, Title VII)?
  • What professional experience do you have with collective bargaining agreements, organizations or unionization?

Employee Development


The ability to identify the knowledge, skills and opportunities necessary for employee career growth, as well the ability to create and implement supporting programs, trainings and activities.

In Action
  • Overseeing required training programs, such as anti-harassment and safety training
  • Working collaboratively with employees to identify and support career goals
  • Coaching supervisors on employee development practices and strategies
  • Communicating information on available training and development resources
  • Identifying opportunities for cross-training, specialization, mentoring or other development activities
  • Developing training courses, programs or materials
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have in training others?
  • What experience do you have in creating or enhancing training programs?
  • Are you comfortable delivering training or coaching to managers and leadership?
  • How comfortable are you guiding employees to identify their own opportunities, goals or expectations for growth?
  • Have you participated in an individual development plan for yourself?
  • How do you motivate or encourage employees who are less engaged in training and development efforts?

HR Data, Systems and Analytics


The ability to select, analyze and summarize data to support decision making and institutional goals.

In Action
  • Collaborating with IT to evaluate data needs, systems and security
  • Creating dashboards, reports or presentations to communicate key metrics
  • Facilitating the collection of data through surveys, interviews, records or other means
  • Entering, updating and maintaining HRIS files and information
Assessment Questions
  • Are you comfortable working digitally with confidential or sensitive information?
  • What HRIS systems, programs or methods do you have experience with?
  • What experience do you have with collecting, organizing and maintaining data?
  • How comfortable are you tracking and analyzing employee metrics?
  • How comfortable are you summarizing and presenting your findings?
  • What experience do you have communicating technical information to non-technical audiences?
  • How have you or how might you use data to influence organizational strategy and decision making?

Risk Management, Compliance and Public Policy


Awareness of current public policy issues and regulations that impact the institution, as well as the capacity to assist the institution in proactively navigating issues of liability and compliance.

In Action
  • Maintaining comprehensive knowledge of critical regulatory requirements including (but not limited to):
    • Anti-discrimination and harassment
    • Equal opportunity
    • FMLA protections
    • Anti-retaliation
    • FLSA requirements
  • Anticipating elements of risk and creating contingency measures
  • Communicating liability concerns and recommending mitigating action
  • Conducting periodic review of programs, policies and practices to ensure compliance
  • Collaborating with the institution’s general counsel to reduce legal risk
Assessment Questions
  • In what areas are you comfortable assessing risk (ex: business, safety, liability)?
  • What tools, methods, models or approaches do you use when assessing risk?
  • How comfortable are you in your knowledge of the institution’s policies and practices?
  • How comfortable are you in your knowledge of local, state and federal regulations?
  • What activities do you or can you engage in to keep your regulatory knowledge current?
  • What experience do you have navigating unexpected or sudden situations?

Organizational Development and Planning


The function of evaluating an organization and subsequently developing plans in order to achieve prescribed outcomes and increase organizational effectiveness.

In Action
  • Streamlining processes to improve efficiency
  • Participating in a task force or working group to address a specific concern or goal
  • Analyzing relevant data and metrics in order to guide decision making
  • Communicating with stakeholder groups to understand objectives and limitations
  • Identifying and implementing essential actions needed to achieve desired outcomes
Assessment Questions
  • Have you had the opportunity to participate in either formal or in-formal organizational planning activities?
  • Have you had the opportunity to participate in, lead or organize a working group, task force or committee?
  • How comfortable are you with giving and receiving constructive feedback?
  • What initial steps do you or would you take to propose change?
  • How do you or would you secure buy-in from hesitant stakeholders?

Budget and Finance


Knowledge of the organization’s financial processes and practices, as well as the ability to accurately forecast and track adjustments to available funds.

In Action
  • Maintaining financial records and reports
  • Conducting financial information reviews or audits
  • Creating and delivering budget proposals and funding requests
Assessment Questions
  • How familiar are you with your department’s or organization’s financial model?
  • What financial information do you typically interact with in your position?
  • How comfortable are you managing financial records and reports?
  • How do you or how would you ensure balance between the organization’s available funds, recruiting initiatives and pay equity concerns?


Project Management


The application of relevant knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a defined project in order to successfully meet project requirements, goals and expectations.

In Action
  • The process of authoring new processes or policies
  • The process of proposing and implementing programs or events
  • The process of managing open enrollment communications and activities
  • The process of identifying and filling an open position
Assessment Questions
  • Have you had the opportunity to individually manage a project, from start to finish?
  • Have you had the opportunity to lead others through a project, from start to finish?
  • How comfortable are you collaborating with others outside of your department in support of project goals or deliverables?
  • What methods do you use to plan and evaluate a project’s process?
  • How do you or how would you communicate and utilize post-project feedback?


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