Competency interviews are also known as behavioural or situational interviews, and are a new style of interviewing that has appeared over the last decade. More organisations are now using this within their hiring process, the basic premise being that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation, but also it employs a formalised, objective structure as a means to standardise the interview process. This allows all candidates an equal opportunity to present their abilities and skills in line with the specific requirements of the position being sought.

The competency interview focuses on experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. Employers pre-determine which skills are necessary for the job for which they are
recruiting, and then ask very structured questions to determine if the candidate possesses those skills. To assess which skills the employer seeks, review employer literature & job specification,
speak with any family or friends who work for the employer, and look at their website for any company values, vision or mission statement – often core beliefs or competencies they want in staff
are listed on here.

During a competency/ behavioural interview, always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely. Competency based interviews focus on ‘core-skills’ i.e. those specifics skill or behaviours that constitute success within a given role. Each competency will be assessed for a requisite amount of time, with the interviewer asking a standard set of focused questions. The interviewer is looking for specific, solid evidence that the candidate demonstrates the particular competency being assessed. It is usual practice for a score to be allocated for each competency examined during the interview, with the total score serving as a measure of objectivity.

Core Competencies:

  • Adaptability
  • Team working & collaboration
  • Personal motivation & results orientation
  • Communication skills
  • Planning and organisation (allowing flexibility for unexpected tasks)
  • Influence & assertiveness
  • Problem solving, decision making & commercial judgement
  • Innovation & Improvement
  • Management/ Leadership skills

Management/ Leadership Competencies:

  • Developing others
  • Innovation
  • Impact & influence
  • Self-management

Your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations from your experiences where you have demonstrated the behaviours the company seeks. During the interview, your responses need to be specific and detailed. Tell them about a particular situation that relates to the question, not a general one. Briefly tell them about the situation, what you did specifically, and the positive result or outcome. Your answer should contain these four steps (Situation, Task, Action, Result or “STAR”) for optimum success. Also think of examples where things have gone wrong and how you would react if faced with the same situation again.

Key areas to consider are:

  • Don’t give general examples
  • Do give specific examples
  • The interviewer will examine your examples in more detail, asking a series of probing questions. In view of this it is important to use good, solid examples, within which you are able to recall as much detail as possible. It is perfectly acceptable to use examples from your personal life, as well as from your professional activities.
  • It is vital that you are prepared and have considered the core competencies and suitable examples before your actual interview.



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