What is KSA? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Definition
  • 1:17 KSA Examples
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Fenner

Susan has an MBA in Management from the University of North Alabama. She teaches online and campus-based Business courses.

KSA is an acronym that stands for knowledge, skills, and abilities. But, how is it used in the business world today? Let's take a closer look and then you can test your knowledge with a short quiz.


A KSA (knowledge, skills, and abilities) is a detailed list of the qualifications that a person needs to perform a specific job. The KSA is created by the employer, and it helps them single out the candidate who's the best fit for a job based on their answers to job-related questions. It's a lot like a business version of Where's Waldo? We need to find our Waldo from a sea of qualified applicants!

Until recently, the federal government used KSA essays as a selection tool in the initial stages of the hiring process for the majority of federal jobs. The hiring process was streamlined in 2010 and KSAs were phased out, although some government agencies still use some form of written essay assessments as a selection tool. Other businesses may also use a KSA to identify the best-qualified candidates to fill job openings, although they may call it by another term, such as quality ranking factor (QRF) or professional technical qualification (PTQ).

A KSA is most often presented in the form of a supplemental job application with three or more job-specific, usually one-page essay questions. The responses are evaluated by an individual or a panel, and each answer will be given a value based on how closely it demonstrates the qualification required for the job.

KSA Examples

Now that you know what a KSA is, you're probably curious about each of the KSA qualifications: knowledge, skills, and abilities. Here's a brief explanation of each category:

Knowledge is your familiarity with the subject matter, or the information that you already possess that can be applied to the performance of the job. If you apply for a job as a human resource manager, you will need knowledge of federal employment laws. Or, perhaps you are applying for a position as an accountant, then you will need knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

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