Skills and Competences for Intelligence Professionals Part 3: Competence assessment

Competence assessment for MI professionals can be done in several ways.

As discussed in my previous post on the three different sets of competences an intelligence professional should master, there are three main categories of competences. In order to be a professional and a successful intelligence practitioner, competences in all three different categories should be well developed. The question is: How well are these skills and competences developed?


It is the task of the person in charge of the intelligence to assess the skills and competences of all team members. He should find out where the weak spots are and discuss a development plan with the intelligence professional. This competence assessment is as a positive step to improve the quality of the team and the deliverables coming from of the team.


The competence assessment can be done in several ways, but one of the most effective methodologies is doing a survey. Use three types of questions in the survey.


Open questions


Open questions will give your respondents a chance to share their views and experience. It is good to start with the following questions:

a) Please list the top 10 most important competencies you USE in your current MI job

b) Please list the top 10 most important competencies you would NEED to do your job properly.


This gives a first indication if there is a gap between what competences an intelligence person needs versus what she/he currently uses.


These two questions can be complemented by the general question: How competent do you feel to perform professionally your current MI job? (Scale 1 to 6 or something similar)

Competence specific questions


Competence specific questions are used after the general questions. Select a number of skills and competences that you believe are most important to execute the job well. Don’t be too shy here, select at least six management/leadership competences, six soft skills and 12 competences needed for the real intelligence work.


For each of these competences ask them to rate the level of proficiency. They can tick the box on the scale: (1) None, (2) Basic, (3) Foundational, (4) Intermediate, (5) Advanced, (6) Expert.


Seemingly unrelated questions


Seemingly unrelated questions can also be a valid addition. What are your hobbies? What motivates you? What makes you angry? What do you value? And so on. There are plenty of lists of competency based questions.


The beauty of the answers to these questions is that it will help you find your respondents real natural competencies and skills. And you can check if you see this reflected in the other survey questions. This can help you to get confirmation, discover some hidden talent or see a discrepancy.


As a kind of sanity check, you can test your survey results with examples of the actual work the respondents have done. There are three possibilities.


(1) The person thinks she is strong in a particular skill and your experience of her confirms this view. This sis great and no action is needed.

(2) The person considers himself to be weak in in a certain competence and you agree with this assessment. This means that something should be done about the situation.

(3) There is a mismatch between what the person answers and what you see in reality. These are the competencies you should discuss in a review meeting.


Make sure you involve HR as this can be seen as a sensitive topic. People may get suspicious and that may lead to skewed replies in the survey. Again the goal of this competence assessment is development, so the better you know the current state, the better you can plan, in favor of the individual, the intelligence team and the company.


by Joost Drieman


This series of five articles zooms in on the competences and skills needed for market intelligence. In our fourth article Joost will shine the light on the skill/grade matrix.


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