Competency-based interviews are widespread, and if you’re looking for a new job, it is likely you may encounter this style of interview. The interview process is a great way to gauge an applicant’s suitability for a role and whether they have the skills that are required. Competency-based interviews are an effective way to determine if a candidate is likely to be suited for a post.

Competency-based interviews are standard for roles where candidates don’t need a lot of previous industry experience, or where specific expertise may not be applicable. Competency-based interviews judge applicants on how they respond to situations and how well you work with others.

Core competencies that firms look for include:
• The ability to work as part of a team
• Being able to handle responsibility
• Communicating well
• The ability to make decisions
• Leadership
• Being able to solve problems

Each company may have the competencies they expect job seekers to hold, but the list above covers the core competencies applicants should aim to display.

Typical questions in a competency-based interview

You will find that competency-based questions feature open-ended questions, allowing the applicant to expand on an answer and provide details. Examples of common questions asked in a competency-based interview include:

• Tell me about a time when you…
• Can you give me an example of how you…
• If this situation arose, describe how you…

These questions provide applicants with the chance to cite examples from previous jobs, education or hobbies. Your answer should indicate you hold skills that enable you to deal with challenging situations.

Follow the STAR approach

Applicants and interviewers alike can benefit from following the STAR approach in competency-based interviews. The STAR approach revolves around ‘Situation’, ‘Task’, ‘Action’ and ‘Result’, and this approach helps the applicant to construct their story.
Following the individual steps of the strategy helps you to deliver a concise and relevant story, moving from the problem to the solution, via your actions.

In preparing for a competency-based interview, candidates should create a bank of examples that offer evidence where your skills have come to the fore. It is best, to be honest at this stage of the process, because there will be follow-up questions, and if you are caught out, it will negatively impact on how well you perform during the interview.

If you can offer a varied range of answers, drawing on work, education and personal life, you will come across well. In an interview process, if you can show a big range of experience and that you can learn in all parts of your life this will reflect strongly on your application.

If you are new to competency based interviews, they may seem daunting, but employers want to know about the skills and knowhow you have developed over the years, and how they will benefit you in the job.

Anyone looking for additional guidance in studying for competency-based interviews, contact The Recruiting Office and we’ll be happy to help.

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