Competency based interviews

Competency based interviews (sometimes also called structured interviews) are designed to test specific skills and how you will meet the core competencies of the job for which you are applying. You will be asked a series of questions which will be marked and scored against already agreed criteria and each candidate will go through exactly the same process.

This type of interview will be less conversational in nature but allow scope for the well prepared candidate to do very well. You will normally be provided with information on the key competencies of the role before the interview. You will be asked questions about your behaviour in specific situations and will need to use actual examples drawn from your previous experience to illustrate this behaviour and the eventual outcome. If you do not prepare in advance it will be almost impossible to answer this type of question effectively.

Preparing for a Competency Based Interview

  • Understand the skills and competencies that will be tested
  • Identify examples from your previous experience that can be used to demonstrate how you meet these skills and competencies
  • Develop answers using the STAR model which involves setting the scene, demonstrating how you handled the situation highlighting the positive result of your actions:

    Situation - describe the situation
    Task - describe the specific task you were faced with
    Action - describe the actions you took – not the team – focus on what you did and why you did it – use the word ‘I’ not ‘we’
    Result - what was the successful outcome, what did you learn

    (Sometimes also called ‘CAR’ - Context, Action, Result)

Once you have listed the competences work through the examples and for each make notes in the STAR format (ideally at least two examples for each competency). Although this can be time consuming it will make the interview far easier and give you an advantage over those who don’t prepare properly.