Competency based interviews
As part of a company’s selection process, they might ask you to attend a competency based interview. This may well be a different approach to other interviews you have been involved in previously.
Overview of competency based interviewing
Competency based interviewing is a structured interview approach which aims to gather evidence about how well you are likely to perform in a particular role. This is achieved by asking you to describe past experiences of when you have demonstrated particular competencies or job relevant behaviours. The reason for exploring your past experiences is that research demonstrates that past behaviour is a strong predictor of future behaviour. The questions asked will relate to a number of competencies which the company has found to help predict job success in the role that you are applying for.
In order for the company to be able to fully understand your suitability for the role, it is important that you talk to them about specific past experiences using the “STAR” approach - rather than your general way of working:
Situation – What was the situation that you found yourself in?
Task – What was it that you had to achieve?
Action – What action did you take to get the desired results?
Result – What was the outcome of your actions?
It is also important that you describe what you actually did, rather than talking about the performance of the team that you were a member of. Typically this approach will begin with a question along the lines of “Describe to me a time when you had to…”
Tips for participating in a competency based interview
- Think about what kinds of behaviours may be important to perform well in the job
- Think about times in the past when you have demonstrated your abilities e.g. successful projects, successful interactions with other people, convincing a difficult audience, analysing a large amount of information
- Think through exactly what you did in these scenarios and separate your own actions from those of any team that you were a part of
During the interview:
- Listen carefully to each question and make sure you provide an example of what is being asked.
- Avoid just telling the interviewers what you want them to know
- Talk about a specific example, not about how you generally act
- Talk about what you did e.g. “I spoke to lots of different individuals” not “We spoke to…”
Every candidate for a particular job will be asked the same questions. This is to ensure that everybody gets the same opportunity and the process is completely fair for everyone. Your interviewer will also be taking notes throughout the interview to ensure that they have an accurate record of everything you have said. These two elements in combination may make the interview feel a little impersonal, but they just want to make sure that they are being completely fair and objective and that your responses are accurately recorded.