How to Prepare For Competency-based Interviews

Job interviews are very vital in our careers and it is extremely important to go prepared. In this post, we will discuss how to prepare for competency-based interviews.

What are Competency-based Interviews?

The competency-based interviews allow the interviewer to find out if you have the right experience, expertise, and cultural fit, one that matches the DNA and culture of the organization. Conversely, it provides the applicant with the opportunity to demonstrate their skill, intellect, and zeal for the role.

Competency-based interviews are used by prospective employers to evaluate a person’s specific skill set and how their previous work experience was approached. They involve asking candidates about specific instances and challenges that the employee experienced in the past, including their behaviors during that time.

Competency-Based Interviews

Common key competencies that employers may look for include:

  • Teamwork
  • Decision-making skills
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership capabilities
  • Time-management skills
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Integrity
  • Trustworthiness

This form of questioning requires diving deeper into an employee’s past and history to understand where their values and talents lie. It’s another form of aptitude test, which seeks specific individuals that will fit in perfectly with the position. The reason why competency-based interviews are so effective will be looked at in closer detail.

Why Competency-Based Interviews Are So Effective?

It’s a Fair Process for All

Many strategies that incorporate competency-based interview questions don’t look at the candidate’s CV and ask questions related to that. The idea is to get a clear picture of the person as they would be in the environment in which they are interviewing for.

Would they be able to manage a team of complacent staff members, or are they only able to work alone in an isolated setting? Those are the questions that need to be asked, but they must be based on the job at hand and the competencies necessary to perform that role properly.

Competency-based questions related to the position in question give all candidates an even playing field where they are judged by their competencies and not what their CV says.

It’s a much fairer process of hiring individuals, which links directly to the responsibilities that are to be carried out. It creates a measurable metric where everyone is evaluated equally based on specific criteria.

Better Insight Into Personality

The more you know about a person, the better you can work with them in a peaceful environment. Different personalities clash all the time, but with competency-based interviews, you can determine which employees will work well together and which should be placed apart. Additionally, it will tell you whether that interviewee will fit into the company at all.

Having employees that align with a company culture leads to greater efficiency and workplace satisfaction. Identifying personality traits and behaviors is done with competency-based interview questions to get a broader perspective of how that person deals with difficult situations or diversity.

Depending on the position the person is interviewing for, there may be certain attributes that you are looking for such as attention to detail, or the ability to work under immense stress and pressure. You would use competency-based interview questions to steer the conversation in a manner that will tell you whether the candidate will be suitable for the job.


For example, a good question in this situation would be, “Can you describe an instance where you had to deal with a lot of pressure, and were you able to remain calm?”. This type of questioning gets to the heart of the answer by asking the candidate to think back to specific past experiences.

Competency-based Interviews Measure Role-Specific Qualities

Some professions require a person with a particular personality to carry out the necessary functions and daily tasks. In some cases, it’s a unique behavior or attitude that employers are looking for, and competency-based questions can identify those attributes.

Someone may come off as confident and capable in an interview but once they start working, they make avoidable mistakes. If the position calls for someone with attention to detail and a perfectionist who doesn’t make errors often, then role-specific questions will need to be formulated around this.

Think along the lines of, “Tell me an instance where you developed a new system to reduce mistakes”. This invokes a response that will get the candidate talking and telling a story, whereby an employer can make logical conclusions about their work ethics and skills that may suit the role.


This is part of the star method interview questions used in competency-based settings that target specific areas of concern by asking about a situation. For more information on star method interview questions, and how interviewers will use it to evaluate skills and behaviors, go to Placement’s website. They provide different coaches that help individuals find their ideal career and give tips on how to achieve it. There are a variety of online coaches to choose from that will guide employees through interview questions and help design a resume that interviewers won’t be able to put down.

Brings Diversity Into the Workplace

There are a lot of people that would be well suited to a position because they have unique skills and personal characteristics that are ideal for various functions. Instead of hiring based on formal experience and educational information, competency-based interviews are effective at diversifying the workplace to be more inclusive of other races, genders, and ages.

The success of the candidate is based on what they bring to the table and not necessarily how much they know. Knowledge can be taught, and information can be gathered, but desirable personality traits are intrinsic from birth and developed over time.

One person may be ideal for a position but because they lack relevant experience, they are turned down. That person may have been the perfect individual to connect with other employees and bring harmony and peace to the office. The specifics of the position can always be taught on the job unless it requires a formal degree or advanced education.

Consistent Structure for Hiring

The beauty of competency-based interview questioning is that it can be applied to any position that needs to be filled and suits a business of any size. From five employees to 500, competency-based testing is a consistent method of sourcing valuable employees that bring the right skills to the table.

All it requires is a bit of planning and brainstorming to formulate questions that will get the answers needed. It’s an approach that can be used many times for any industry looking for someone with a unique set of qualities.

Competency-based questioning is becoming more popular in HR functions because it targets specific individuals by assessing whether a person possesses the correct competencies, knowledge, and characteristics needed to perform the job in question.

How to Prepare for Competency-Based Interviews

Start with Preparing for the most Common Competency-Based Interview Questions

As an applicant, you’re expected to elaborate on a specific scenario and ultimately relate your answers to why you’re a valuable and relevant candidate for the position. Here are a few examples of common questions:

  • Tell me how you’ve taken on leading a project.
  • Describe a difficult situation you’ve encountered and how you solved it.
  • Can you give an example of a time when you led a team?
  • Describe a time you’ve had to deal with conflict and how you resolved it.

Questions about hypothetical scenarios may also arise where you have to demonstrate creativity and the ability to solve problems on the fly.

Do Your Research

While it may go without saying, once you’ve scheduled the interview, make sure you read and understand the entire job posting. Research the company itself to get a sense of their culture, and any skills or traits that their organization values.

You want to market yourself as someone who has (and can continue to) demonstrate a skill set and demeanor to match the role and the company.

Brainstorm Anecdotes

After you have a comprehensive understanding of the company, the role, and the skills needed to succeed, it’s time for preparation.

Prepare 5 to 10 short stories on the key types of questions you expect to be asked. Make sure they really get across the positive impact you’ve had in all situations, with positive business outcomes.

Use the STAR Method

If you want to practice, whether it be a mock interview with a friend or mentally running through potential answers yourself, Reaney suggests using the STAR Technique. He explains how to use the acronym to stage your responses:

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

Example Questions of competency-based interviews

The following are examples of questions that may be asked in your competency-based interview:

  • When have you completed a difficult task as part of a team?
  • Describe how you have positively contributed to a team.
  • Have you ever received negative feedback from a manager, employer or coworker? How did you handle it?
  • Describe a difficult situation you resolved at work.
  • Have you ever had to resolve a customer complaint? If so, how did you resolve it?
  • Describe a time you were given a responsibility you’ve never had before.
  • How have you contributed to the improvement of a team’s overall performance in the past?
  • What is the most challenging decision you have ever made at work? Why did you find it challenging, and what was the outcome?
  • Describe a significant change you’ve had to accommodate in the workplace and how you dealt with it.
  • Have you ever had to work with someone you didn’t get along with? If so, how did you make the situation better?
  • Describe a time when you used creativity to solve a problem in the workplace.
  • Provide an example of a time you successfully handled conflict within the workplace.
  • What would you consider your biggest workplace achievement?

Read  6 Competency Interview Questions You Can Ace with Preparation

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: