10 Tips To Passing Your Next Competency Based Job Interview

Competency based job interviews are becoming widely used during the job interview process, as they provide employers with greater accuracy to what you’re really like as a person and more importantly an employee.

Competency based interviews use your past performance in specific situations as a guide to how you will perform in the workplace. From the questions, hiring managers get a better view of what you’re going to be like as a team member and whether you’re going to fit into both the role and the company culture.

Preparation Is Key

Being successful in a competency based interview is actually very difficult as you’re unlikely to know what competencies each employer is looking for or what specifics within each question they want to hear.

Your competency based interview could also just be one small part of a traditional interview or can be a separate interview.  What we do know, you’ll to prepare for both types of interviews.

Below are 10 great tips to help you be successful in your next competency based interview.

Plan and Prepare

Most people will have great answers to the simple questions, but interview questions are designed to challenge you.  There will be many questions that you might now know the answer, or only have an understanding of the answer, but cannot be considered to be an expert in that topic.  It’s much easier to have a successful job interview if you have prepared answers to a selection of questions before you enter the interviewing room.

Research the Role

Read the Job description at least five times and really try to think about the keywords in job description as this will give you an idea about what are the likely competencies that you will be tested on.

You should also research in detail the company and gather as much information on their culture, strategy and what type of people they like. Whilst the questions about the job description and company are unlikely to come up during a competency based interview, by working out what keywords they like to hear, you can structure you answers to suit each interview you go to.

Think of Examples

Examples are key within a competency based interviews.  You need to prepare examples for each competency that you will be tested on before the interview starts.

This way you’re unlikely to have that “brain freeze moment”, where your mind goes blank and you cannot think of an answer. At the bottom of this page, you will find a list of key competencies that you could be tested on if the company will not provide you with them.

Mock Interviews

Old phrase, “practice makes perfect” and it really applies to interviews. Candidates often perform twice as well on their second competency based interview as they do on the first. Use a recruiter and or an interview coach to practice your interview skills.

Over the years i have met a selection of candidates that suffer from a lack of interview practice.  One solution, apply to jobs that you have little or no interest in but can use the interview to practice answering questions.

Learn the STAR or SAR Approach

Both are very simple communication techniques that allow you to structure your answers to competency based interview questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and SAR stands for Scene, Action, and Result.

Whilst there are slight differences between the STAR approach and the SAR approach, effectively both approaches ensure that you set the scene, tell the interviewer what you did and what the result was, in a clear natural style.

Talk About “I” as Much as Possible

There is no “I” in team, however in a competency base interviews, “I” really counts. Interviewers want to know what you did and what you were responsible for.

“I” is especially important in any leadership or managerial questions as you’re trying to show what you were responsible for, not what the team did. Make you use “I”, but not “I told” as you really don’t want to sound like a dictator.

Watch out for Those Interviewers

Interviewers are human, but at the end of the day they’re doing a job and are likely to have been trained to follow a script and show no emotion. They may have a large number of questions to get through in a short period of time and therefore have no time for rapport or any time wasting. Whatever you do, don’t let this put you off your stride. Building rapport with an interviewer is important, but if you cannot, don’t worry and move on.

Watch Out for Those Odd-Ball Questions

Search in Google for “Competency Based Interview Questions” and you can find list of almost every question that will/could ever come up in an interview. Interviewers are clocking onto this and throwing in a few oddball questions.

Watch out for these. At the end of the day, these oddball questions are there to try and put you off your game and get you worried. There really is no right or wrong answer, but my advice is to always stay positive. An example – What’s your favourite colour? Choose yellow, because it’s a positive colour…!!

Ask For Feed-Back at the End of Your Interview

Even if the interview went really well, you need to ask for feedback on your interview performance. Unfortunately it’s not always the best candidate that gets the job.  Whilst you have the interviewer in front of you, it’s a great idea to ask them how you did.

Constructive feedback is vital to improve your future job interview performance and can really help you avoid making similar mistakes in your next competency interview.

Give Real Example and Include Details

Competency based Interviewers love stories and love stories that really go into depth. In a competency interview, the interviewer is looking for the action that you took and what the result was. Use examples and make sure that you mention specific names, dates, places and the outcome of what you achieved.

To do this you need to make sure that you use real examples that have actually happened rather than a theoretical example. You will find it much easier to provide an interesting example and provide detail, if your answer is based in a real situation.

Competency based interviewers hear both real and manufactured situation. Unless your interviewer is a complete beginner, they will be able to spot the difference.

Final Thoughts

Competency based interviews are difficult, but as long as you prepare, stay calm and focus on answering the question, you will be able to make it a success.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below and I will do my best answer it.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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