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You may have been to interviews before that follow the more general format where you discuss your previous experience and qualifications as shown on your CV; a competency-based interview may include some of the above however it is more focused on assessing specific skills, expertise, behaviour and cultural fit.

Competency-Based Interview Questions

First and foremost, be aware of competency-based interview questions. These are usually open-ended with the goal of having the interviewee describe a relevant situation or experience. Questions will typically start with prompts like, ‘Tell me about a time when…’

As the interviewee, you’re expected to elaborate on a specific scenario and ultimately relate your answers back to why you’re the best candidate for the position. 

  • Tell me about a time you have had to meet a tight deadline…
  • Describe a time you have had to deal with a difficult customer situation and how you resolved it…
  • Can you give an example of a time when you have gone the extra mile for a customer?

Questions about hypothetical scenarios may also be asked where you would have to demonstrate creativity and the ability to think of an answer on the spot: Ask an Interview Coach: How Do I Answer Hypothetical Interview Questions?

Research is the key

While it may go without saying, prior to the interview, make sure you have read and fully understood the job description and any other necessary company documents. From reading through the job description and required skills and competencies, you can then think of examples of times you have done/demonstrated X, Y and Z and from this, prepare specific interview responses per ability.

Researching the company itself is important to get a sense of their culture and any skills or traits that their organisation values. This can be done via their company website and company LinkedIn pages. You want to market yourself as someone who can demonstrate a skillset and behaviours to match the role and the company. 

STAR Technique

The STAR Technique is a great strategy to use when responding to competency-based interview questions:

  • Situation: Set the scene and context for the interviewer.
  • Task: What was your challenge?
  • Action: What did you do to overcome this challenge?
  • Result: Highlight a positive outcome, drawing on how your action impacted it.

Are You Prepared for Your Job Interview? Don’t Say Yes Before Reading This

Ask Your Own Questions

The interviewer is more than likely to ask you if you have any questions for them, and the answer should always be a ‘Yes’! – ask about the working day, the team, development opportunities, company progression, new industry technology etc. Always avoid questions like “how much holiday will I get” or questions surrounding salary – these are a no no at this point in the process!

This will not only give you the opportunity to uncover as much information as possible about the company itself and what they have to offer, but this is another opportunity to show that you’ve done your research and that you are keen to learn more.

Any interview can be nerve-wracking no matter the interview style. If it is going to be competency-based, preparation is crucial for success; therefore research, research, research and prepare responses and stories about yourself that demonstrate your unique selling points and skills. With preparation and practice, you’ll ace the interview and fingers crossed, land the job.

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