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. 

Benefits

Competencies
  • Understands and demonstrates knowledge of HR concepts, principles and practices related to a vast array of benefit programs, such as retirement plans, insurance, injury compensation, non-insurance benefits (paid leaves, child care, wellness programs, employee discounts, etc.) and other employee benefits programs.
  • Understands process and best methods for determining eligibility for all applicable employee benefit programs.
  • Prepares and times employee communications for maximum understanding of benefits.
  • Exhibits knowledge of and oversees recordkeeping.
  • Ensures benefit programs and procedures meet organizational needs and comply with legal and regulatory restrictions.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the basic concepts, principles and practices related to various benefits programs
  • Able to communicate to institution staff or faculty methods for determining eligibility for applicable benefit programs

Application

  • Demonstrates knowledge of the concepts, principles and practices related to various benefit programs
  • Contributes to how benefit programs and procedures meet institutional needs and comply with legal and regulatory restrictions

Mastery

  • Helps others to be able to communicate the concepts, principles and practices related to various benefits programs.
  • Leads and communicates how the benefits programs meet institutional needs and comply with legal and regulatory restrictions

Influence

  • Is known to help others with the knowledge of benefit programs as well as influence how the benefits programs are perceived at the institution
  • Valued as a trusted individual to lead and communicate strategy related to the institution’s benefits program
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe a typical day of working in benefits or finance. What work did you oversee? How do you communicate with others about the benefits program?
  • Tell us a story about how you helped either staff or faculty through benefit programs and procedures.
  • This position requires strict compliance with federal and state policies. What experience do you have that would prepare you for researching and following these policies?
  • If you’ve helped navigate through the many legal and regulatory restrictions around benefits, tell us about a time you helped others understand these restrictions. What happened, and what was the outcome?
  • What are some of the key metrics you’re capturing as it relates to campus benefits? How are you using the data in your strategy for future benefit structures? How are you communicating these metrics to other leaders on campus?

Compensation

Competencies
  • Demonstrates knowledge of compensation concepts, principles, and practices, including pay structures and compensation philosophy.
  • Develops and interprets compensation policies and related work rules to include hours of work and schedules, flexible work weeks, overtime and shift work.
  • Designs and implements pay-increase programs, adjustments to pay plans, premium pay, over-payments and waivers, as well as bonus and merit pay programs.
  • Has knowledge of compensation-related laws, rules and regulations
  • Analyzes employee pay and market rates to ensure equity, address issues such as compression, noncompetitive pay rates, turnover, lack of upward mobility, inconsistent titling and pay.
  • Develops guidance and provides regulatory and policy advice and assistance on all compensation matters, etc.

Classification can be an essential function when working in compensation. Classification involves a consistent method of evaluating a job (a set of duties and responsibilities) for purposes of assigning a title, an FLSA classification and a pay range. This process can take place when a new position is created or when a job needs to be reassessed due to changes in duties or market factors. A consistent methodology is important for ensuring internal equity and compliance with relevant state and federal regulations. Responsibilities can include oversight of personnel action requests, analysis of job descriptions in relation to classification systems.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the basic compensation concepts, principles and practices, including pay structures and compensation philosophy
  • Able to share information about compensation packages for institution staff or faculty 

Application

  • Interprets knowledge of the compensation concepts, principles and practices, including pay structures and compensation philosophy
  • Contributes to how compensation packages are designed, and able to interpret compensation laws, rules and regulations

Mastery

  • Helps others to be able to communicate the concepts, principles and practices; analyzes pay and market rates for equity and future strategy efforts
  • Analyzes, leads and communicates the institution’s compensation package. Develops current guidance, advice and policy on all compensation matters

Influence

  • Is known to help others with the knowledge of compensation as well as influence how compensation is perceived, endorsed and led at the institution
  • Valued as a trusted individual to lead and communicate strategy related to the institution’s compensation structure and philosophy
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe a typical day of working with compensation packages. What work did you oversee?
  • Tell us about a time you needed to communicate your institution’s compensation package? What happened? What was the outcome?
  • If you’ve helped navigate through the many legal and regulatory restrictions, tell us about a time you helped others understand these restrictions. What happened, and what was the outcome?
  • If you’ve assisted in analyzing employee pay and market rates to ensure equity, tell us about what you learned through that process? If you could do this again, what would you do differently to ensure equity on campus?
  • What are some of the key metrics you’re capturing as it relates to compensation? How are you using the data in your strategy for future compensation structures? How are you communicating these metrics to other leaders on campus?

Recruitment

Competencies
  • Understands and demonstrates knowledge of the concepts, principles and practices related to identifying, attracting, selecting and retaining individuals to address institutional needs.
  • Understands relevant HR laws, rules and regulations.
  • Advises on and utilizes a full spectrum of recruitment strategies.
  • Maintains knowledge of the labor market and recruiting resources.
  • Oversees or advises search or selection committees, and negotiates with candidates.

See framework section Building Capabilities, competency Identify, Recruit and Onboard Talent for more information.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the basic concepts, principles and practices related to identifying, attracting, selecting and retaining individuals to address institutional needs.
  • Able to recognize relevant HR laws, rules and regulations

Application

  • Demonstrates knowledge about identifying, attracting, selecting and retaining individuals to address institutional needs; and able interpret relevant HR laws, rules and regulations
  • Contributes to how the recruitment process is designed and can communicate the process to others

Mastery

  • Leads, oversees and communicates the overall recruitment process to other HR individuals and campus leaders; provides overall decision making in process, negotiation and selection
  • Maintains and communicates to others the labor market and recruiting resources

Influence

  • Is known to help others with the knowledge and use of recruitment strategies and influence how the program is perceived at the institution
  • Valued as a trusted individual to lead overall campus recruitment strategy related to the institution’s goals and needs
Sample Interview Questions
  • Think about the last job you filled. Describe in detail the process you went through to identify and attract high-performing candidates.
  • Tell me about a time where you had to sell a selection committee on the interview process. What did you say to make them consider it? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a situation where you failed to fill an open position. What went wrong? What would you do differently?
  • Take me through the steps you take to build a talent pipeline.
  • Tell me about the most recent interviews you’ve conducted. What was key in determining if candidates were a good fit?
  • How do you typically structure your interview process? What do you make sure is taken into consideration, and why?
  • What are some of the key metrics you’re capturing as it relates to recruitment? How are you using the data in your strategy for future recruitment processes/guidelines? How are you communicating these metrics to other leaders on campus?

Employee/Labor Relations

Competencies
  • Understands and demonstrates knowledge of laws, rules, regulations, case law, principles and practices related to employee conduct, motivation, performance, rewards and dispute resolution.
  • Understands practices and laws related to union organizing, negotiating, contract interpretation and administering labor agreements.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of a variety of HR issues to include performance management, employee conduct and other work life issues.
  • Identifies, evaluates, and recommends management interventions to solve problems and issues.
  • Applies knowledge of consensus building, negotiation, coalition building, mediation and other non-adversarial problem-solving approaches to resolve problems and advise management.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Aware of laws, rules, regulations related to employee conduct, motivation, performance, and the like.
  • Aware of the variety of HR issues to include performance management, employee conduct and other work-life issues; knows about problem-solving approaches.

Application

  • Demonstrates knowledge of laws, rules, regulations related to employee conduct, motivation, performance, and the like
  • Communicates to others how to understand and follow-up on matters related to employee and labor relations issues; provides/trains on problem-solving techniques

Mastery

  • Consistent with staying current with laws, rules and regulations related to employee and labor relations; shares with others and applies knowledge to training, processes and guidelines
  • Respected as expert and advisor for building consensus, solving problems and is sought out for campus-wide how to’s and best practices

Influence

  • Influences how others approach this focus on campus and how institutional practices advance
  • Valued as a trusted individual to influence employee and labor relations on campus
Sample Interview Questions
  • Share with us how much you know about the National Labor Relations Act.
  • How do you address a dispute between employees? What are the steps you take to resolve it? How should one handle this issue?
  • Tell us about one thing you learned early on when dealing with employee/labor relations and have never forgotten it. Why haven’t you forgotten it, and how has it changed how you approach employee/labor relations?
  • Describe what you believe is the most important quality to have in this position and why?
  • Tell us about a time when you made a mistake in your duties. How did you remedy it?

Employee Development

Competencies
  • Monitors current HR trends and tools relevant for employee development.
  • Helps employees create career development goals.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of and focus on employee skill development
  • Designs and implements development activities for employees for current and future role responsibilities.
  • Develops training for supervisors to enable them to coach employees and help them formulate professional development plans.
  • Establishes mentoring programs, as appropriate.
  • Provides information to employees on sources of training.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Aware of the basic concepts, principles and practices related to employee skill development
  • Able to provide information to employees regarding training sources

Application

  • Demonstrates knowledge about employee skill development; and can share activities for employees for current and future role responsibilities
  • Contributes to what tools are relevant for employee development

Mastery

  • Leads, designs, oversees and communicates training development resources; provides overall decision making in development tools or programs [leadership, mentoring, etc.]
  • Monitors trends, analyzes best approaches for campus and design/implements appropriate tools

Influence

  • Is known to help others with the knowledge and use of development practices and influence how staff are developed on an ongoing basis
  • Valued as a trusted individual to lead the employee development strategy and align it with the institution’s goals and needs
Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a training program that you developed or enhanced. Share the roadblocks and lessons learned. How did the training program mold how you will approach future work in developing training programs?
  • Give an example of a time when you felt you were able to build motivation in your co-workers or staff at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to train someone on your team? Why did you have to train them? How did you balance the time requirements of training with other work?
  • Have you ever had to train someone from a different department on how to use/do something that you were an expert in? What was your strategy for training them? What was the outcome?
  • Have you ever had to onboard new hires to your team? How did you ensure they were up to speed as quickly as possible?

HR Data, Systems and Analytics

Competencies
  • Plans, develops and implements an HR Information System (HRIS) tailored to collect, retrieve and report key data to ensure timely reporting, workforce assessments, HR operational efficiencies, realistic projections and mandatory recordkeeping.
  • Collaborates with other functional and IT units to evaluate data integrity issues and needs.
  • Develops safeguards for data integrity and security.
  • Interprets how metrics and analytics work to maximize individual and institution performance as well as influence institution decisions.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the various HR systems used to operate HR actions
  • Retrieves and reports on relevant data for HR actions [time reporting, work assessments, recordkeeping, etc.]

Application

  • Demonstrates and trains others how various HR systems work; plans, develops and implements HR systems
  • Collaborates with leaders to pull appropriate metrics and analytics

Mastery

  • Consistently adheres to developing safeguards for data integrity and security; assesses accuracy and reliability of HR systems and forecasts improvements
  • Leads efforts on data, system and analytic interpretations and communicates to others

Influence

  • Is known to influence institutional system usage
  • Valued as an influential for systems, security, interpretation and strategy
Sample Interview Questions
  • When presenting performance metrics, how do you make sure your audience understands technical terms?
  • How do you stay up to date with industry trends? Tell us an example of how you have used this information to encourage/convince other leaders to implement similar practices?
  • Describe the most challenging database issue you’ve faced so far. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time your findings helped identify areas for improvement and/or reduced costs.
  • What database software have you used?
  • Do you have experience creating a data model from scratch? If so, describe the process step by step.
  • How do you maximize security of confidential data?
  • What data would you compile to analyze trends and forecast institutional growth, for example?
  • How would you organize data into spreadsheets to track performance metrics? What kinds of reports would you produce?
  • How would you explain to executive leadership how a big data model works, using simple language?

Risk Management, Compliance and Public Policy

Competencies
  • Plans and implements programs that anticipate, prepare for or compensate for elements of risk.
  • Maintains a comprehensive knowledge of best practices and proven institution risk-management methods, models and tools.
  • Aligns programs with individual, department and institutional strategies.
  • Communicates the impact of identified risks and recommends corrective action.
  • Ensures ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Conducts periodic review of activities to ensure compliance with risk objectives,
  • Collaborates with the proper stakeholders for communicating appropriate guidance.

See CUPA-HR’s Public Policy Principles for further guidance.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the appropriate programs that anticipate, prepare for or compensate for elements of risk
  • Knows about the best practices and risk-management methods, models and tools.

Application

  • Aids in the development, and plans and implements programs that anticipate, prepare for or compensate for elements of risk.
  • Maintains a comprehensive knowledge of best practices and proven institution risk-management methods, models and tools.

Mastery

  • Leads and aligns programs with individual, department and institutional strategies; Ensures ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Communicates the impact of identified risks and recommends corrective action; conducts periodic reviews; and collaborates with stakeholders

Influence

  • Sought out for best practices for teams, division and institution
  • Influential in how risk, compliance and policy is perceived and acted upon at various institutional levels
Sample Interview Questions
  • Share with us what you believe constitutes an effective compliance program.
  • How would you handle an employee/executive leader violating an institution’s code of conduct?
  • How would you handle a request by an executive leader for you to violate an institution’s code of conduct?
  • Describe your working relationship with the institution’s general counsel (if they are on campus or they are contracted by the institution). What are the essential qualities you need to work with this individual? What would be the ideal working relationship with counsel and why?
  • The very nature of risk management means that sometimes the unexpected happens and you will be forced to reevaluate current processes and procedures. How would you improvise and start from scratch when necessary?
  • Give me an example of when you had to get buy-in from a difficult stakeholder.
  • Can you give me an example of how you've challenged the status quo in your current role and what the outcome was?
  • Describe a situation on your team that you had to deal with quickly in order to stop the situation from escalating.

Organizational Development and Planning

Competencies

Organizational development is the formal process whereby an organization is evaluated and plans are developed to achieve prescribed outcomes such as effectiveness, efficiency, employee motivation and satisfaction, and improved business processes.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Knows about OD and importance of it for improving teams and institution.
  • Understands how OD efforts aid in the redesign of organizational structures in order to increase productivity and accountability [teams and institution].

Application

  • Able to assess redesign structures; able to design the system[s] that facilitate improved performance; able to make OD recommendations that coincide with the institution’s overall vision and leadership.
  • Focus on development and improvement of current OD practices. Able to explain the results of OD assessments and recommendations.

Mastery

  • Initiates conversations around OD efforts; and able to make initial recommendations and plans about changes based on needs and institution’s overall vision.
  • Focus on sustainability and forecasting needs related to OD practices, and the sustainability of teams and the institution. Helps in closing performance gaps.

Influence

  • Groundbreaking results in making OD efforts reality at the institution. Provides the road map to implement efforts within any division or department.
  • Influences not only the organization and culture changes, but also influences everyone involved to make the changes happen.
Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell us about a time you were tasked to initiate an organizational development effort. Where did you start? Who did you need to influence? And how were you able to navigate through the "tricky" change — with processes and people?
  • What would you describe as some long-range OD objectives that you developed in your last job? What did you do to achieve them?
  • Tell me about an experience in which you analyzed information and evaluated results to choose the best solution to a problem.
  • How would you consider analyzing data or information a strength?
  • Provide an example of a time when you successfully organized a diverse group of people to accomplish a task.
  • Tell me how you organize, plan and prioritize your work.
  • Tell me about the last time you monitored or reviewed information and detected a problem. How did you respond? With whom did you share your findings and possible recommendations?
  • Provide an example of a time when you were able to demonstrate excellent listening skills. What was the situation and outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when your ability to analyze needs and product requirements helped you create an effective design or make an informed decision to benefit your team and/or employer?

Budget and Finance

Competencies
  • Understands the institution's financial processes, sources of funding, expenditures and budgeting.
  • Understands overall financial performance of the institution.
  • Analyzes financial information to evaluate HR-related strategic opportunities and options.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Knows the financial processes and overall importance of budgeting.
  • Aware there is financial performance of the institution

Application

  • Helps others understand financial and budgeting processes; oversees sources of funding and expenditure tasks
  • Gathers financial information and generates reports

Mastery

  • Leads efforts for financial processes, sources of funding, expenditures, and budgeting; relays the overall financial performance to others.
  • Analyzes financial information to evaluate HR-related strategic opportunities and options

Influence

  • Helps to guide where financial processes, sources of funding, expenditures, and budgeting should be currently and in the future; leads efforts to shape the overall financial performance
  • Analyzes current financial state for HR- and other department related opportunities. Forecasts future status of where HR and other departments can/should be.
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe your greatest success in working in budget and finance
  • If it were up to you, what would the institution’s budgeting process look like?
  • Describe what you believe makes a good financial model.
  • What experience have you had in performing analysis and preparing recommendations?
  • What are the elements of an effective management report?
  • What are the benefits of records management? What are the components of an effective records management program?
  • What is the purpose of a records retention schedule?
  • What types of records would be considered vital records for an organization? What are the legal implications associated with a records management program? What steps are involved in determining the retention period for records? Name the risks of having an ineffective records management program.
  • What experience have you had with establishing file systems? How would you organize a file of general correspondence documents?
  • Fixed Assets: What experience have you had in fixed assets accounting?
  • General Ledger: What experience do you have with general ledger?
  • Cost Accounting: Tell us about your experience in cost accounting. Have you implemented or administered a chargeback system? Name some components of an effective chargeback system. What are fixed costs? Variable costs?  Marginal Cost? Describe some of the methods used to allocate support costs.
  • Budget: What experience have you had in developing a budget? What is the purpose of a budget and what are the steps involved in preparing a budget? What is zero-based budgeting? Have you conducted a budget review? Define the internal rate of return. How may the internal rate of return be used in capital budgeting? What are the benefits of budgeting? How would you prepare a cost/benefit analysis for an automation system?
  • Accounting: Tell us about your experience in accounts payable. What steps would you take before approving an invoice for payment? Tell us about an invoice discrepancy that you discovered and how you resolved the discrepancy. What items of information do you need before you can approve an invoice for payment? Accounts Receivable: What information should be included when preparing a bill for services? Audit: Tell us about your experience in conducting audits. Cost Accounting: Tell us about your experience in cost accounting. Name some components of an effective chargeback system. What are fixed costs?  Variable costs?  Marginal Cost? Describe some of the methods used to allocate support costs. Fixed Assets: What experience have you had in fixed assets accounting? General Ledger: What experience do you have with general ledger? Payroll: What experience have you had in payroll? Based on Internal Revenue Service rules, what criteria distinguish a consultant from an employee?

 

Project Management

Competencies

Project management can help institutions increase efficiency in competitive environments. The practice of project management is to apply knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a project in order to meet project requirements. Managing a project can be viewed as a cyclical process that includes initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. Each part of the process includes several areas such as integration, scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, human resources, communications, risk management and stakeholder management. All in all, managing a project brings together a unique focus that is shaped by goals, resources and a schedule. Project Management Institute definition.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the process of pulling together the management of a plan; aware of the stakeholders involved in the management of a plan
  • Aware of the skill(s) necessary to work in an environment dealing with [frequent] change

Application

  • Aids in the planning, organization, assessment, and monitoring of project management; collaborates with other project managers or stakeholders
  • Demonstrates the ability to navigate through the project while also navigating change with ease

Mastery

  • Leads and implements entire project management; able to collaborate with and lead other project managers and stakeholders. Serves as point person for decision making and coordination efforts
  • Assess project management for accuracy and effectiveness; leads the charge in project direction and leads the way in adapting to change

Influence

  • Convinces, influences or encourages others on tactical and strategic efforts – whether for division or institutional project management efforts
  • Influential in implementing a competency development program for project management efforts
Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell us about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
  • Using an example of a  specific project, tell how you kept those involved informed of the progress.
  • Describe when you know a project is off track. If the project is not staying within schedule, how do you get it back on track?
  • How do you manage teams or individuals who are scattered across the institution, system or remote?
  • Describe a time when it would be important to seek help outside the project team.
  • Tell us about a time you had to introduce a project team or department to project management software. What happened? If you could do that all over again, what would you do differently and why?
  • Tell us about a time when someone didn’t fully participate on the project team. How did you get them to (re)engage? What ultimately happened?
  • On the other hand, tell us about a time when someone was overly vocal or productive on the project team. How did you get them to relinquish some of the work? What ultimately happened?

 

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