How to Shine in a Competency Based Interview

Earlier in the week we ran a blog on competency based questions, and the reasons why employers use the technique in job interviews when questioning candidates.


Competency based questions are designed to make the interview process as objective as possible by removing conscious or subconscious bias from the interviewer. Each candidate is asked the same set of questions based on a framework created for a specific role, with the responses they give graded by the recruiter.


The questions typically start with variation of the phrase “tell me about a time when…” which acts as a prompt for the interviewee to describe a situation from start to finish. To respond effectively, it’s important to give a complete description of your involvement in the experience you are describing. One of the most common approaches to structuring your answer is to follow the STAR technique, a tried and tested method that can help you succeed when facing a competency based interview:


Situation - This is the start of your answer, it is about setting the context and describing the overall situation.


Task – The next step requires an explanation of what you were required to do. From the situation which has arisen what did you need to do?


Action – An explanation of what you actually did. What steps did you take to resolve the situation?


Result – This is about describing the outcome from your actions. Don’t worry too much about whether the outcome was positive or negative, but be sure to give an honest response.


However, there is one final step that is commonly forgotten about which can help you really shine.


Reflect – This relates to you identifying to the interviewer what you learned from the experience. It is an excellent opportunity for you to demonstrate how you have developed as a result of this situation.


In addition, when responding to competency based questions aim to:


Be specific – Describe a specific situation and don’t generalise your answers


Talk about yourself – If the situation involves a team, be sure you talk about the actions you took and your input into the result.


Be concise – It is important to give as much detail as possible but ensure this information is relevant.


Practicing interview questions using the STARR technique will dramatically increase your chance of interviewing well and the increased preparation will help you walk into a job interview full of confidence.


If you are interviewing soon, good luck! What are your thoughts on the best ways to approach a competency based interview? Which preparation methods work best for you? Feel free to leave a comment below sharing your ideas

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