Competencies at NIH

As the workplace changes, the workforce must shift to meet organizational goals. Here at NIH, we use a Competency Model to help staff align themselves to the greater mission.

Competencies are:

Information developed or learned through experience, study or investigation

The result of repeatedly applying knowledge or ability

An innate potential to perform mental and physical actions or tasks

The observable reaction of an individual to a certain situation

Competencies can be grouped into competency models to help determine how to be successful in your position. Other factors in your success include personal characteristics such as values, initiative, and motivation. Below are resources available:

  • Dictionary - definitions of core competencies
  • Models – sample competency models to help get started
  • FAQs – answers to common questions

If you have a question, send us an email.


Competencies are not only about what you know, but how you apply what you know. Competencies should:

  • Define expectations of your position (not tasks)
  • Identify measurable and/or observable knowledge, skills, abilities, characteristics and behaviors
  • Provide flexibility to respond as job functions and technology evolve
  • Describe the work of an organization


As the workplace changes, leadership must consider what is essential for staff to achieve the organization’s mission. Competencies can:

  • Align individual behaviors and skills with the strategic direction of the organization
  • Identify hiring needs based on competency gaps
  • Find the most appropriate pool of candidates
  • Clarify expectations of a position
  • Assist employees in creating Individual Development Plans (IDPs) that support  organizational goals