The Competency Based Interview

In this type of interview the recruiter is interested not in your experience and qualifications but really wants to uncover whether you have the right skills to take the role and cope well.

They are used as a practical test as to how the applicant is likely to react in a given scenario; they focus on predicting how you behave in certain situations. Some of the competencies they may address are:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Organisational skills

The questions are likely to conform to the pattern:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Can you think of an example of how/when…
  • Describe a way in which you…

The interviewer wants you to describe from your previous experience something that demonstrates how you addressed the situation. The STAR model is a useful way of ensuring you cover key points, start by using the model to identify:

Situation - briefly describe the background to the situation

Task - specifically describe your responsibility

Action - describe what you did

Result - describe the outcome of your actions.

Use this information to show how you achieved the result and how your actions addressed the initial situation and task.

Top tips for competency based interviews

  • Read the job description and pick out the key skills highlighted
  • For each of these think of an example of how you have shown that attribute
  • Be truthful, you will be asked further questions about the subject

Probing questions will be used to determine the course of action you took and the results created by those actions, and the effects of those actions on others.

The interview is based on the idea that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. The recruiter is looking for specific examples describing your actions in certain situations, not what the team's role as a whole was, or what you would do in a hypothetical situation.

While such questions can be challenging, they give professionals an opportunity to emphasise accomplishments and valuable transferable skills at the interview stage. Ensuring that you effectively highlight your strengths is key to success.

To see how Career Directed Solutions could provide support around Competency Based Interviews for yourself or your employees please contact us 0333 240 8115


Posted: Tuesday 6 March 2018

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