How to answer Competency Based Interview Questions

Competency-based interview questions are designed to assess the specific qualities and skills needed for a job. Read our tips below to help you prepare to ace this interview approach.

Interviewing for a new job can be stressful, but one aspect that often catches candidates off guard is the competency based questions.

Unlike traditional interview questions about your background and experience, competency based questions evaluate the skills and aptitudes needed for the role.

What are Competency Based Questions?

Competency-based questions require you to provide a specific example that demonstrates your skills in areas like leadership, communication, problem-solving, and dealing with challenges. The interviewer wants to understand how you have applied certain competencies in real-life situations.

Typical competency-based questions start with phrases like:

“Describe a situation when…”

– “Give an example of a time when…”

– “Tell me about an occasion when…”

The interviewer wants to hear about your actual past work experience, not a hypothetical answer. They are assessing whether you possess and are able to evidence the key competencies required for the job. If you do not have a work experience situation you can discuss, use personal experiences.

How to Provide a Strong Response

To answer competency-based questions effectively, you need to draw upon your past experiences and explain the situation, the challenges involved, the actions you took, and the ultimate results utilizing the STAR method:

  • Situation: Set the scene and give details of the event or circumstance.
  • Task: Explain what you needed to achieve/the intended outcome.
  • Action: Describe what you actually did to address the situation and complete the task. Focus on your specific actions.
  • Result: Explain the outcome after you took those actions. Include what you accomplished, what you learned, and what strengths you demonstrated.

Make sure your examples are credible and directly relate to the competency the interviewer is assessing. Providing clear details with a logical sequence will make your response more impactful.

Preparing Examples in Advance

Before the interview, review the job description and try to determine which competencies are likely to be evaluated such as adaptability, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, etc. Then brainstorm 2-3 specific examples from your experience that you can discuss to demonstrate each of these key competencies.

Competency-based questions require much more preparation than traditional interview questions, but investing time to have thoughtful examples ready will help you provide stronger responses.

With practice, you can learn to really ace this type of behavioural interview question!

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