Competency Based Interview Questions Explained

By Annette Lewis

So you have just got an invite to attend an interview. Congratulations!

However, there is a problem; the invite states that you will be taking part in a Competency Based Interview and you have no idea what that involves.

Not a problem, in this article I will provide you with the key information you need; I will explain what Competency Based Interviews are and most importantly I will provide you with a foolproof technique which will help you answer any Competency Based Interview question with ease.

What is a Competency Based Interview?

In many respects a Competency Based Interview is no different from a standard interview. The format used, the duration and set-up will all be the same and the way you approach and prepare will be the same.

The key difference lies in the questions asked. In a Competency Based Interview, the questions will all be Behavioral Based and for this reason you may find these interviews referred to as Behavioral Interviews. Indeed they are sometime referred to as Structured Interviews and this is because each candidate is asked the same questions in the same order with no deviation.

Examples of Competency Based Interview Questions (Behavioral Interview Questions) are:

In Competency Based Interviews you will be asked Behavioral Interview Questions and these ask you to give specific examples of when you demonstrated particular behaviors or skills.

  • Describe a time when you used initiative to resolve a particularly difficult problem.
  • Give an example of a time when you made a decision without having all the necessary information. What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of an important goal you achieved and how you delivered it.
  • Describe the most difficult project you were involved with and the obstacles you overcame.
  • Give me an example of a difficult situation you faced with an employee, and tell me how you solved it.
  • Tell me about a time when you showed good leadership.
How to Answer Competency Based Interview Questions (Behavioral Interview Questions)

Remember that general answers about behaviors are not what the employer is looking for. They are seeking detailed and specific information about an event, task, project, or experience and in particular how you were involved.

I suggest that you base your answer on a real experience and a useful technique to use is what we call iPAR:

i = Answer in the first person using I rather than We, even if it was a team effort
P = Describe the PROBLEM, situation or task
A = Talk about the ACTIONS you took
R = Describe the successful RESULT by using figures and data to illustrate the benefits

Prepare answers which relate to all the achievements on your resume as you will surely be asked questions relating to these. You will find that you have a sufficient stock of answers that will help you answer any competency based interview question irrespective of the style used.

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About the Author

Annette Lewis is an accredited interviewer and has recruited for many organizations within Healthcare, Education, Customer Services and Banking Google+

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Competency Based Interview Questions Explained