5 Core Competencies that Identify High-Performing Employees

Is there a way to predict the future success of a job candidate? Perhaps not with 100% accuracy, but there are certain core competencies that, when present, can help to identify individuals who have the highest potential. And while not every business will seek the same exact core competencies, there are some that are universal, regardless of position or industry. If you are seeking to fill a role in your veterinary clinic, here are five proficiencies to look for in your candidates.


The ability to communicate clearly and consistently, both with clients as well as colleagues, is an integral skill to have in the veterinary field. As you evaluate candidates, make a point to assess how they communicate, including both their written as well as verbal communications. How do they respond to your email messages? Do they seem comfortable speaking over the phone? Are they calm and confident during in-person interactions? These are all signs of how well an individual will perform when hired, so be aware.


Success in the business world depends heavily on relationships. How well an individual melds with a team of others is pivotal to your practice’s longevity. Look specifically for candidates with demonstrated track records of positive, productive collaboration with others. At the end of the day, you want employees who are supportive and engaged with one another. This will trickle down to client service as well, so it’s highly important. 


As a practicing vet, you are well aware of the role that information gathering and problem-solving plays in patient care. However, these skills are just as important in other team members as well, regardless of their level or position. For instance, having a front desk agent who is able to ask the right questions and gather the appropriate information can ensure clear communication and prevent potential costly mistakes. High potential employees are proactive about research and are not prone to jumping to conclusions, but rather they take thoughtful decision-making seriously. 


With technology that is evolving at a break-neck pace, it’s imperative that you focus on building a team of individuals who are open to change and capable of adapting as needed. Beyond the required continuing education opportunities that are mandated in our industry, the best performers will be those who possess an eagerness to continue learning, growing and improving. These candidates are the ones who will propel your practice forward and keep it relevant and competitive.


A person who is self-confident is one who is capable of openly receiving negative feedback. And chances are, there will be occasions where you will need to gently coach your employees. When this happens, you want individuals who won’t become defensive or fall apart, but will instead view your feedback as an opportunity to become even better at what they do. Look for candidates who are willing to speak up, but in a way that is thoughtful and professional. Remember – inability to keep one’s mouth shut isn’t a sign of self-confidence. It’s actually a sign of insecurity, so be careful to recognize the difference.

These are five universal core competencies that can be applied to most businesses. Of course, there may be certain others that are specific to your practice. Using these as a foundation for candidate evaluation, and adding to that foundation the other must-haves that you determine will help you build and grow a team of high-performers who will make your practice shine.