How to Deal With Competency-Based Interviews

A competency-based interview is another form of an interview that focuses strategically on one or more skills, competencies, and abilities. The motive of the question format of this interview tends to be different and somewhat more technical than the regular interview.

The competency-based interview is alternatively known as the situational, behavioral, and structured interviews. Unlike the normal or unstructured interviews you get to see every day, competency-based interviews are much more efficient, especially for employers.

Each and every question of this competency-based interview tends to focus on a particular skill or ability to which you’ll have to provide answers. Your answers, in comparison to some pre-decided standard, will determine your overall result of the interview.

One principle that competency-based interviews always adopt is the fact that initial behavior is an effective indicator of potential future performance.

Like I pointed out earlier, a competency-based interview tends to be more systematic and tactical with each question, strategically targeting a specific important skill, the job will be needing. Unlike the other interview type of questions that targets just an overall impression of your personality build-up.

Recently, the principal skills, abilities, and competencies most employers look out for, in this form of interview are as follows:

  • Versatility or adaptability
  • Self-reliance or independence
  • Skillful communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Fluidity or flexibility
  • Purposefulness and decisiveness
  • Leadership
  • Orderliness or organization
  • Perseverance and resilience
  • Good teamwork
  • Conflict resolution
  • Commercial mindfulness

With this information so far, you can understand that competency-based interview is built on a pragmatic concept. And that should’ve given you a clear notion of what really works here: your practical ability. Anything below that is unacceptable. And if you must scale through such an interview, be ready to put in the effort.

Your next interview might be a competency-based interview, you’ll never know. No one is too sure of the format his/her next interview will be taking; is it a competency-based interview, a video interview, or the unstructured interview? Of course, you have no idea.

And as a result of that, you need to start coming to terms with this format; accepting it, and learning how to deal with it.

Principal Questions Of Competency-Based Interview

Competency-based interview questions are aimed at testing a variety of skills. And the answers you should provide must be in alignment with the scope of reality; you must answer in the context of real events.

Skills to be tested depends so well on the role and sector you are applying for, with that you should know your area of expertise very well and other areas of importance.

Below are the commonly asked questions in a competency-based interview:

  • Give an instance of when you spearheaded a project to completion.
  • Give an instance of how you’ve handled challenges in your workplace.
  • How do you create and maintain the appropriate working relationship with your colleagues?
  • Tell me about a situation or a time in which you led a team and the aim of that leadership.
  • What big decision have you made as of recent? How did it finally play out?
  • Describe a time or a project where you had to improvise in order to improve the situation.
  • Tell me about a time you have delegated a function you’ve never attempted initially. How did it finally play out?
  • Give an instance of when you creatively dealt with a situation.
  • Describe a time you succeeded at something considering the many odds against you.
  • To date, what is your biggest achievement?

These are some of the commonly asked questions in a competency-based interview. There are tons of them though, but the ones I outlined are the most common ones. Do well to get acquainted with them, crafting a unique answer of yours that will surely impress your employer.

Below is a simple formula you need to use when crafting your answer for the competency-based interview.

Answering Questions Of Competency-Based Interview

The best approach to take when answering competency-based interview questions is the S.T.A.R (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) method. This format helps you to stay on track; presenting a direct and precise answer to your employer’s question, rather than prevaricating.

For every question thrown to you, ensure you communicate the:

  • Situation

Explain the nature of the situation you are faced with and the potential damage it could cause. For instance:

We were once faced with the issue of poor marketing strategies and we needed to launch our latest academic software as soon as possible to avoid depreciation of value or running the risk of getting our concept pirated.

  • Task

Here you should talk more about the situation and also the idea or strategy crafted out to improve the situation. For instance:

So we decided to form a group that will have to sort for professional marketers that will help us and also enlighten us on some of their ideas. Definitely, we’ll be paying for their services.

  • Action

In this part you are expected to brief your interviewer on the actionable steps you took in order to help the situation. For instance:

After we made the decision, we immediately executed the plan. The group was formed, with me as the leader. I started by making research on reputable marketing agencies and I found tons of them.

I proceeded to filter them out by certain criteria such as the success of the agency so far, the effectiveness of their customer support, their communication standard, and some other criteria.

Finally, I came to choose one of them and proceeded to contact them via email. They responded within the space of few minutes, a rather nice and fast one. I told them of my intentions to partner with them and they accepted immediately. They were so happy to work with my team.

  • Result

This is the place where you specifically, talk about the outcome of the actionable measures you took. For instance:

After we partnered with this very marketing agency, they took up the job immediately. And with the resources we provided them with, in collaboration with their ideas, we were ready to introduce a new phase of our company.

Their ideas were superb, nothing like I’ve ever heard of or seen before. They championed the marketing segment and within the space of a month, we’ve already launched the software.

The software did really great in the market, we attracted many more investors and gained more recognition and fame in the industry and finally, we made more money. Considering the collective effort of my team, we were awarded by our company’s CEO.

There is no gain in cooking up stories here. Honesty is highly imperative, so be sure to always play by the rules. Any invented stories can easily be tracked. Be sincere.

You must strive to also correlate your answers to the role you are applying for as this gives your employer a more comprehensive knowledge of the overall picture.

Getting Ready For Your Next Competency-Based Interview

Just like every other interview, you must be critically prepared physically and mentally in order to ensure your success. And that is a sure easy thing to do.

The best way to prepare for the competency-based interview is by first getting a clear picture of the job advert.

You can afterward, look out for the description of the job role and the abilities your employer is looking for. Try to think of instances and events where you experienced or demonstrated such competencies and abilities.

Try to craft diverse examples from different areas of your life like your previous job, studies, or any other experience you’ve come across.

Another nice shot you should take is getting very acquainted with the STAR formula. Try to practice with friends or family members in order to gauge your performance. You can take this process further by going for a mock competency-based interview at a university career service.

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