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Competency Based Interview Questions – What They Are and How to Prepare

Written by Sophie Down | February 11, 2015 | 2 Comments
shutterstock_192057266So you’ve been offered an interview – great, but you’re told it’s a competency based one and you’re unsure what to expect. In this blog, Webrecruit looks at covering what competency based interviews are, and how you can answer these questions effectively.

What is a competency based interview?

A competency interview, also known as a situational or behavioural interview, is carried out to enable the employer to understand your level of competence for the job by asking questions based on your capabilities.
A competency is essentially a desired quality that the employer is looking for, which is fundamental for the role. This could include leadership, problem solving, or teamwork.
Such interviews will be carried out when an application cannot be reviewed based upon the CV alone, therefore, using questions to gauge a candidate’s ability. Competency questions are popular amongst graduate employers and assessment centres.

What type of questions can I expect?

The questions asked will still be based around what the job role will entail. For example, if the hiring manager is looking for someone who’s able to communicate professionally, they will probably ask a question based around this skill.
The following are a few examples of competency based questions along with a specific skill that these may have derived from, to give an idea of what you could get asked during an interview:
Communication
• Tell us about a time where your communication skills made a difference to a situation?
Decision-making
• Give us an example of when you have had to make a big decision within a time limit, how did you manage this?
Innovation
• Tell us about a project, where you had to tell a senior colleague that a different approach was necessary.
Risk-taking
• Give an example of a task where you had to monitor the risks involved, how did you ensure correct choices were made?

How should I prepare for them?

When it comes to preparing for these types of interviews, it is important to look at different situations from previous work experiences which you can use as examples to prove a point in your abilities.
This is where it is vital to ensure you have a good understanding of what is expected of you. Look at the job description, what are they looking for? The likelihood is that it will include a range of soft skills required for the position. As aforementioned, try to use examples of real life experiences, where you have had to utilise these particular skills.
If you are looking at how to provide a structured answer, one helpful technique that you can use is the STAR method, read more on this here. When answering, keep in mind to stay on topic, and avoid dancing around the question. If you have to explain a time where something has gone wrong; back it up with how you resolved the problem.
Practicing these types of questions can also aid you in answering them effectively and efficiently. Many examples can be found online, so try researching a few that are focused around the skills required in a job you are applying for, to practice your answers.
Remember, these aren’t trick questions. They are simply in place to identify whether you are a good fit for the job and the company. You can use these as a chance to showcase your achievements to your interviewers, with a focus of matching the skills they are looking for. So, with the right preparation, you will be more than ready to answer competency based interview questions.
Look for your next opportunity here.

2 thoughts on “Competency Based Interview Questions – What They Are and How to Prepare

  1. Ralph on Reply

    Very informative indeed. Interviews are always nerve wrecking but if you know what to expect you’ll be much more confident and prepared.

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