Competency based interviews are increasingly popular as a way to predict a candidate’s future performance. Essentially, a series of behavioural and competency-based interview questions are designed to assess your suitability for a job. These are based on your ability to perform specific role-related tasks that are integral to the job you’re interviewing for. Understanding how to answer competency-based interview questions is the key to success in every industry. 

A great response to a competency-based interview question should be clear and well-structured, highlighting your abilities and the value that you can bring to the role. To ensure you deliver a comprehensive response to these questions, we recommend utilising the STAR technique. 

Structuring your responses to competency-based interview questions

When asked to describe some of your key competencies, or an example of a time you demonstrated a particular skill or had to deal with a certain situation, be sure to describe the following:

  • The Situation – what happened, what position you were in at the time, and what were the impacts or potential implications?
  • The Task - what needed to be done as a result?
  • The Action – what did you do to ensure these tasks were fulfilled? How did you approach each task and complete each action?
  • The Result – what was the overall outcome?

Example: Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem.

⭐ Situation - “When I first took the role of Supply Chain Manager at my current company, there was a real lack of faith in my team and the function, this was mainly down to the wider business being let down in the past when stock was needed most.” 

⭐ Task - “My challenge was to win back this faith and promote my function internally as the ‘go-to people’ for anything inventory related.” 

⭐ Action - “I took the time to meet with every internal stakeholder and asked them what we could do to make their life easier. I took accountability and asked them how they would measure our success. I then scheduled monthly meetings to report on progress and address any issues.” 

⭐ Result - “The outcome was full engagement from the business as well as fewer issues through better communication skills. In addition, our team performance improved through a combination of better KPIs and the motivation of feeling valued. This all equated to £300,000 in extra sales while minimising our working capital.”    

The more you prepare for a competency-based interview, the better you will be able to provide responses and impress the interviewer as a standout candidate.

Example competency-based interview questions

Drawing on over 40 years of recruitment experience, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of key competency-based questions, grouping them into five categories - individual, managerial, analytical, interpersonal, and motivational. Use this to highlight your key competencies during an interview and land your dream job. 

Individual competencies

Questions surrounding your individual competencies refer to your personal attributes; your decisiveness, tenacity, knowledge, independence, risk-taking and personal integrity.

Typical questions:

  • Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was challenged.
  • Describe a situation where you were unable to meet a deadline or complete a task on time.
  • How do you, or would you, approach projects you are responsible for? 

Managerial competencies

For management positions in particular, it is essential that you demonstrate strong influencing abilities. Questions designed to assess your managerial competencies will be used to measure your ability to take charge.

Typical questions: 

  • Tell me about a time you led a group to achieve an objective.
  • How do you motivate your team to achieve their goals?
  • What do you consider to be good management and what effects have you had on others through your approach?

Analytical competencies

These competency interview questions will be used to determine your ability to analyse, process, and implement solutions. This reflects your analytical competencies and your decision-making abilities. 

Typical questions: 

  • Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem.
  • Describe a time you found it difficult to make a decision at work. How did you arrive at a solution?
  • How do you approach problems at work?

Interpersonal competencies

Communication is an important aspect of most roles. When asked to demonstrate your interpersonal competencies, be sure to highlight your key skills in terms of how you work with others in the workplace.

Typical questions:

  • Describe a situation where you got people to work together.
  • Tell me about a situation that required you to use a different approach to communication skills.
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with conflict with a client.

Motivational competencies

Competency-based questions regarding your motivational competencies are designed to help employers understand the things that you are motivated by and what drives you, whether that is in your day-to-day life or at work. 

Typical questions: 

  • How do you define success in your role? 
  • When did you work the hardest and feel the greatest sense of achievement?
  • Tell me about a time you had a difficult target to achieve. 

Final advice 

Remember, be yourself when answering competency-based questions. Use real-life examples and relate them to your experience, how you reacted or how it made you feel. These are not trick questions, they’re designed to create the best match between an individual and an organisation. With a little bit of preparation, you’ll quickly realise that competency-based interviews represent an unprecedented opportunity to describe some of your finer moments to a captive audience.

What's next?

For more advice on how to impress in a competency-based interview, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants for specific advice for the industry or roles you are interested in.

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