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Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin

 

What is a competency-based interview?

These interview questions are designed to pull out your abilities.

Some interviewers may be more interested in your experience or previous qualifications, what a competency-based interviewer really wants to know is whether you have the right skills to take the position on.

 

What are key competencies?

Skills that employers look for when recruiting. Some key competencies include:

  • Teamwork
  • Responsibility
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Organisation
  • Goal orientation

 

Common questions asked at competency-based interviews

Although the type of question you are asked will depend entirely upon the role and industry you’re applying for, there are some common themes which run through competency-based interview questions.

Some examples include:

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

The interviewer is looking for practical examples of some key competencies, i.e. ‘describe a way in which you demonstrated excellent leadership’.

Your examples can be from a job, but don’t forget they could draw from your education or even relate to hobbies, such as sports teams or groups you may be a part of.

 

How to answer competency-based interview question

Firstly, pick out some of the key competencies stated in the job description and think of some examples for each one.

If they’re looking for someone with excellent teamwork and leadership skills, think of a scenario in which you’ve demonstrated this. As well as workplace situations, consider, for example, a group presentation you’ve undertaken at school, a university society you were a member of, or even being captain of your five-a-side football team.

If you’re not used to answering competency-based interview questions, the STAR model is a useful way of communicating key points clearly and concisely.  Once you’ve identified the ‘Situation’, ‘Task’, ‘Action’ or ‘Result’, formulate it into a short key point, making sure you include how you achieved the result and how your actions addressed the initial situation and task.

A simple answer, using the situation above, would be:

‘I demonstrated my teamwork and leadership abilities during my Duke of Edinburgh activities. I was responsible for leading our team through a group activity blindfolded. I chose to assign tasks to the most suited individuals and gave clear instructions to guide them through the process.  We went on to win the challenge.’

 

Top tips for competency-based interviews

Here are our top tips for competency-based interviews:

  • Before you arrive at the interview, pick out the key skills highlighted in the job description.
  • For each one, have a pre-prepared example of how you’ve displayed that attribute.
  • Use a wide variety of examples where possible, including during school or higher education, any previous employment or work experience, and in your daily life in general.
  • Don’t lie. They will ask you questions about the subject, and any embellishments you’ve made will be quickly found out.
  • Don’t try and think on your feet.
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