Competency-based interviews are a challenge all their own.

Walking into a competency-based interview can be a nerve-wracking experience ‒ you want to think clearly, answer the questions well and ensure you impress the hiring manager. But if you know what you’re walking into, you can prepare beforehand, helping to boost your confidence and calm your interview nerves. So if you’ve got a competency-based interview coming up, don’t fear! We’re here to guide you through the process and help you land your dream job.

What is a competency-based interview?

In order to tackle a competency-based interview (also known as a situational or behavioural interview), you first have to know what it is. Perhaps more importantly, you also have to understand how they differ from the traditional interview style.  

While conventional job interviews often ask candidates about their experience and hard skills, competency-based interviews will ask about specific scenarios you’ve been faced with that demonstrate your soft skills. The idea is that by answering these questions and providing practical examples, you’ll show the recruiter how your past experience will help you in the future.

Take advantage of the job advert

Every employer will have an idea of the skills and abilities they’re looking for, so you must make sure you tick the right boxes. Luckily for you, the job advert is your cheat sheet for this.

Use the personal specification section to find out what skills the employer wants; these might be anything from teamwork to problem-solving. Then, think of examples where you’ve used these qualities in the past. They don’t even have to be from work! Maybe you led your local football team to victory, which could be evidence of your great leadership skills.

Be sure to have these examples in the forefront of your mind to use when relevant. This will help you think of ideas quickly when put on the spot.

Look up common competency-based interview questions

While every company will have its own interview style, there are certain skills and abilities that most employers look for in a great candidate. So get researching to find out the popular questions and interview topics that come up in your industry.

Once you’ve gathered a list of competency-based interview questions, it’s time to practise your responses. Focus primarily on past experiences that demonstrate your achievements. It’s good to have a few different examples in mind as you shouldn’t refer back to the same scenario multiple times.

Even if you don’t get asked the exact questions you’ve prepared for, that’s OK. You should be able to adapt your answers accordingly. Here are some examples of the most common competency-based interview questions job seekers are faced with:

  • ‘Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge but overcame it.’

  • ‘Describe a situation where you handled conflict.’

  • ‘Give an example of a time where you lead a team.’

  • ‘Tell me about a time where you used your communication skills to improve a difficult situation.’

  • ‘Describe a situation where you used an unconventional approach to solve a problem.’

  • ‘Give an example of a time where you went out of your way to help someone.’

  • ‘Name a time where you had to motivate a team.’

  • ‘Give an example of a time you received negative feedback and explain how you handled it.’

Use the STAR technique for your answers

The STAR technique is a way for you to ensure you structure your answers effectively and cover all the right grounds. It stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result, and here’s how to use it when forming your responses:

Situation: It’s time to set the scene and give the HR manager some context. Here you should describe where you were, who you were with and what happened.

Task: Explain how this situation related to you. What were the objectives or goals you had to achieve? Why were you involved?

Action: Talk about what you had to do to resolve the situation. A word of caution: While you should explain what you did, be careful not to take credit for the work of others.

Result: How did the scenario end? Did you meet the goals that were set despite any complications? Be sure to focus on the positives in this section.

Practise using the STAR technique with the questions above and you’ll easily master your responses.

Ace your competency-based interviews

Attending any interview can be an overwhelming experience, especially when you’re trying to show the best of who you are. It’s important that you’re prepared and ready for the challenges ahead. Remember to calm your nerves and use our advice to help you out. You’ll quickly become more than competent, in no time at all.

Click on the following link for more interview advice.

Before you can ace your competency-based interview, your CV needs to get you in the door. See how yours stacks up by getting a free CV critique.

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