Interview Preparation - Part 3c

Apr 24, 2018

INTERVIEW PREPARATION Part 3c: Competency based questions

Increasingly, companies choose to employ “competency based” questions as a means to standardise the interview process.  This allows all candidates an equal opportunity to answer the same questions and present their abilities and skills in line with the specific requirements of the position being sought.

Because all candidates will be asked the same questions, the questions will be generic giving the interview a more formal feel.

Questions focus on specific skills or behaviours that are deemed to be essential to fulfilling the role, rather than an individual’s experience of completing tasks, for example:

  • Organisation
  • Teamwork
  • Staff management
  • Problem solving
  • Flexibility

It is usual practice for a score to be allocated for each competency examined during the interview.  The interviewer is looking for specific, strong evidence, that the candidate demonstrates the particular competency being assessed.


The secret to success is having prepared detailed examples to showcase your abilities.  If the job description includes a person specification then this may list some of the competencies required.  Either way, research the company and the job role, make a list of competencies that you identified as being important to the company and the role, then consider at least one example for each competency.   It is acceptable to use examples from your personal life, as well as from your professional activities, although the latter is preferred.

When preparing examples, make sure you give a good level of detail:

  • Set the scene: give the background to the example including where, when, and who else was involved.
  • Identify the problem to overcome, or the challenge to achieve, that required you to draw on that competency.
  • Explain what you actually did, focus on your contribution
  • Conclude with the positive result from your action

Interviewers may spend several minutes probing further into your example to get additional details.