Are You Prepared For A Competency Based Interview?

Competency based interviews were developed over three decades ago by organisational psychologists and their popularity has grown rapidly since, with many companies and organisations using them in their recruitment process. Unlike traditional interview questions, competency based questions focus specifically on past performance, behaviours and actions.

Question examples:

  •  Can you give an example of a situation where you had to change your approach midway through a project or task, following new input into the project or a change of client instructions?
  • Can you give an example of a project where you achieved success despite the odds being stacked against you? How did you ensure that you pulled through?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team? How did you resolve the situation?

Why competency based interviews are great for companies

Business meeting at bank or insurance.

The fact that so many companies use competency based interviews is testament to their effectiveness. Katharine Hansen of US job search website states “Behavioural interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behaviour, whilst traditional interviewing is only 10% predictive”. A survey commissioned by Sandler Training UK that surveyed 1000 UK business owners revealed that each bad hire costs a company an average of £13,799; suddenly the value of competency based interviews comes sharply into focus.

Why competency based interviews are great for candidates

Business handshake

The problem with much of the traditional interview format is that it is easy for candidates to say exactly what the interviewer wants to hear. However, in competency based interviews, candidates can’t let their imagination run away with them and answers will be expected to be backed up with evidence and statistics. If you’re a good candidate for a role and have the experience, skills and evidence to back you up, these types of interviews are your chance to shine and differentiate yourself from other candidates.


STAR – The key to success in competency based interviews

You can have all the examples and statistics in the world to prove how good a candidate you are, but you need to communicate them effectively. The STAR process is a communication technique that is used around the world and will enable you to provide a clear, meaningful and effective answer to the types of questions you will face in competency based interviews. It consists of four stages:

Situation – It’s crucial the interviewer understands the context of your story, so give a brief explanation of the context.

Task – What was required of you? Why was it important?

Activity – Explain what action you took, highlighting the skills and personal attributes that the question is testing. Always follow what you did with why you did it.

Result – Explain how well the situation turned out. You should also explain what you personally accomplished and learnt from the situation. You need to make the interviewer understand how you achieved the specific outcome by taking specific actions.

By framing your answers using the STAR technique it will enable you to look forward with confidence to competency based interviews, and enable you to answer questions confidently and effectively.

If you would like help on this topic ask your recruiter; why? Because a good recruiter will have the answer you are looking for.

Best regards,