Facing Competency Based Interview Questions

Increasingly, our clients are using competency based interviews as part of the selection process.

Firstly, what is a competency-based interview? These are questions that follow the principle that past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour; the interviewer will be trying to find out HOW you approached a problem or challenge rather than just try to find out about your skills or experience within a particular area by asking closed questions.

Sometimes competency based questions may be referred to as behavioural or situational questions and they are often used in first-stage interviews.

Competency based questions are often used by more experienced interviewers and they are designed to give the best candidates the chance to shine so they are nothing to be scared of. You may want to consider the following…

Firstly, try to think what competencies the interviewer will be looking for - analyse the job specification and think ‘What skills would I be looking for if I was recruiting this person?’. Take a look at the company’s website – what competencies do you think they need?

Secondly, think of some situations in advance – if you are keen to demonstrate you can work well with others think about how you can demonstrate WHEN you have worked well as part of a team and describe this - rather than simply telling the interviewer you work well with others.

Do your homework - write down five competencies you think you may be asked about. These may be very specific technical skills or more generic broad-based skills that may be sought in junior roles. Next to each competency think of a time in your career when you have demonstrated that competency. For each example use the STAR Model.         

  • Write down the Situation or problem you faced
  • Explain the Task or activity that you were faced with
  • Write the Action you took
  • Summarise the Result

Don’t pretend everything has been perfect if it hasn’t. What did you learn or what would you do differently? Describe what you learnt from the experience – what went wrong and how might you do things differently next time. Be prepared to show you can reflect on your own experience and improve for next time.

Lastly – enjoy the interview. We are big believers that we all perform better at things we enjoy.