3 tips to help you conquer competency-based interviews

Most of you will probably have heard of the term ‘competency- based interview’ by now.

That’s because this is an incredibly common form of technique employers use to find out if you’re the right candidate for them. This is good in many ways, mainly because it means that you know what to expect. But it also allows you to revise and prepare more fully for what is in front of you.

Competency interviews will always involve looking back at your previous work experience (and social life, in some cases) and showing by example how you demonstrated a certain attribute or life skill. This could be examples of organising a group, motivating others, calming down a potentially explosive situation etc. Just think of the kind of actions, attributes and skills you potential employers want for the role.

Says Oliver Saville @assessment_day: “Research has shown that structured, competency based interviewing is the most effective method of selection interview, outperforming less structured interviewing in their predictive power.”

When sitting in your interview you will be able to tell if it’s a competency-based question they are asking you because the interviewer will usually start with something along the lines of: “Tell me about a time when…” or “Have you ever found yourself in a situation where…”

So, how do you deal with this type of interview when confronted with a panel of faces you’ve never met before? Well, the best way, as always, is to prepare and prepare again. And here are three tips to help you do just that:


1 Discover what competencies they will be looking for

 You can pretty much have a good guess as to what sort of attributes and life skills the panel will be looking to hear about by going through the advert. It should already have most of the competencies listed in it.


2 Compile examples you can use for individual competencies

 It’s fine to use the same example for two different competencies but try and find just one for each. That way you get more of an opportunity to impress the interview panel. Make a list of the competencies with written examples underneath them and learn each example scenario off-by-heart. Think about questions for each scenario that the interviewers may ask too.


3 Use the STAR technique when compiling the examples

 By implementing the STAR technique you are giving a full answer in each example you cite. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action and Result. So, it’s pretty straight-forward and actually allows you to plan and write your example neatly so that it is more easily understood by the panel. Just remember to answer fully rather than give clipped one sentence answers.


Other things you can do to improve your chances further still is to look at skills that the company itself may be missing out on and which you can supply. For instance, it may be that the company doesn’t have much of a social club and yet you may be the one who organises Fun Days and social events at your current job.

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