Competency Based Interviews: Our Essential Tips

If you’ve been invited to a competency based interview, you might be apprehensive about the challenge. In truth, competency based interviews aren’t that different to ordinary job interviews. You just need a new approach, including a lot more preparation, and the confidence to shine a positive light on your actions.

The interviewers will expect you to describe situations where you’ve excelled at your job, and they’ll want proof that you have real world experience. Rather than seeing this as an interrogation, it can be a great opportunity to relive some of your finest achievements at work.

What You’ll Be Asked

At a competency based interview, employers are looking for real world examples of key skills. They will ask you to describe a situation in the past where you achieved a certain goal, and how you went about it. Each role requires a different set of competencies.

For example, if you’re going for a job in HR, the panel might ask you to describe a time you broke bad news to a colleague, or managed a disagreement between a team member and a manager. If you’re trying to get a job in management, they’ll ask you if you’ve inspired people to work together, or helped two different personalities to gel and cooperate.

Depending on the role, the questions may lean more towards one or two competencies, or they may ask a range of questions that test half a dozen. To answer, you’ll need to think back over your achievements and figure out how they prove your ability to do the job.

How to Prepare

Compared to a regular job interview, a competency based interview requires more preparation and forethought. You’ll need to quickly describe situations where you excelled at work, and figure out ways to describe what you did, what the result was, and how this proves your competency.

While you can’t predict the questions, you can at least anticipate the competencies that are relevant. The worst thing you can do is turn up unprepared.

In competency based interview training, STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. As part of your preparation, write down one sentence for each scenario: a sentence on the situation you faced, a sentence on the task, and so on. Focus on describing a positive, effective result. This can help you organise your thoughts and keep your best competencies at the forefront of your mind.

On the Day

The competency based interview requires the same approach as a regular job interview: arrive 10 minutes early, look smart, be polite and engage with the panel.

In addition, you might find it useful to print a copy of your STAR responses and bring them to the interview in a folder, with your CV, a map, and any other documents you need. Sit down with a coffee just before the appointment, and run through your STAR answers so they are fresh in your mind.

During the interview, the panel will assess your responses based on a range of factors, including your attitude to the problem, the way you deal with colleagues, the impact your actions have on others, and your ability to work independently to resolve a challenge. If you can demonstrate positive action, and a willingness to learn from mistakes, you have a good chance of ticking the boxes.

Our Advice

It’s normal to be apprehensive about a competency based interview, but the key here is preparation. If you’re not sure how to apply the STAR technique to your role, ask the Fruition IT experts for help.