Overview to competency-based interviewing
Competency based interviewing is a structured interview approach which aims to gather evidence about how well you are likely to perform in a particular role by asking you to describe past experiences of when you have demonstrated particular competencies (or job relevant behaviours).
You will be asked questions relating to a number of competencies which the company have found predict job success in the role you are applying for. For each competency you will be asked a number of questions to give you more than one opportunity to demonstrate your abilities, and also to ensure the interviewer gathers enough evidence relating to all areas of the particular competency.
Answering competency-based interview questions
In order for a client to be able to fully understand your suitability for the role, it is important that you talk to them about specific past experiences, rather than your general way of working.
It is also important that you describe what you actually did, rather than talking about the performance of the team you were a member of. To give you a better understanding of the types of questions you will be asked, the following is the typical format for a competency-based interview question: “Describe a time when…” or “Tell me more about....”
Every candidate will be asked the same questions; this ensures that everybody gets the same opportunity and the process is completely fair for everyone. Your interviewer will also be taking notes throughout the interview to ensure that they have an accurate record of everything you have said.
These two elements in combination may make the interview feel a little impersonal, but it’s to make sure that the process is completely fair and objective, and that your responses are accurately recorded. You will have a chance to learn a bit more about the company at the end of the interview and throughout the rest of the selection event.
Preparing for a competency-based interview
- Think about what kinds of behaviours may be important to perform well in the job.
- Think about times in the past when you have demonstrated your abilities e.g. successful projects, successful interactions with other people, convincing a difficult audience, analysing a large amount of information.
- Think through exactly what you did in these scenarios and separate your own actions from those of any team you were a part of.
- Don’t restrict yourself to purely job-related examples. You may also have good examples from school/university or your hobbies.
- Listen carefully to each question and make sure you provide an example of what is being asked. Avoid just telling the interviewers what you want them to know.
- Talk about a specific example, not about how you generally act.
- Talk about what you did e.g. “I spoke to lots of different individuals” not “We spoke to…”