What is the difference between competencies and interests?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the fields of education, human resources, and in other specific fields, potential students and employees are often categorized in terms of their competencies, or in terms of their interests, in order to determine their placement. 

Competencies are skills, talents, abilities, and expertise in an area. In the field of education, a teacher decides how to differentiate instruction based on the data provided by the competence-based standardized testing that students undergo every year. That is what determines student placement in specific courses. Therefore, a student is more likely to succeed when placed in courses that would allow the student to use his or her competencies to the fullest. 

In a similar procedure, employers use resumes to sift out their potential employeee's competencies. This way the employer can determine where a future employee could be more productive within an organization. 

Interests refer to the particular preferences of an individual. Interest Inventories, such as Strong-Campbell for instance, are assessment tools that allow people in supervisory roles to understand the people that they manage from a more subjective perspective.Catering to the interests of people within an organization is a best practice to keep the morale high, and the motivation going. As a result, productivity is likely to increase and maintain a steady pace. 

Similarly in the field of Education, Student Interest Inventories help teachers compile their reading lists, individual projects, and classwork. After all, if the student is not engaged in the lesson there is really no point in teaching it; the student is likely not to learn. Comparatively, if a teacher is aware of the unique likes of his student, it is more than likely that these interests will be infused within the lesson, making it more relevant and sensible. 

Therefore, competencies and interests are unique features that every individual possesses. Everybody has a skill as well as a list of favorite things. Far from menial information, competences and interests are major components of understanding people as individuals for the purpose of classification, or just to provide them with better and more quality services. Finally, competencies and interests also have in common the fact that they are both measurable, for there are valid tools in place that help track both: Interest inventories, and competence-based testing.