How to answer competency based questions

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Competency based interviews are becoming more popular as a way to forecast a candidates performance by evaluating  the candidates mind-set, and seeing how he/she handles certain situations.

Competency based interview questions require candidates to give examples of when they demonstrated particular skills or attitudes. The interviewer will be asking questions that will be integral to the role you’re interviewing for and they will require candidates to describe a problem or situation, the actions they took to handle the problem, and the outcome of the situation.

Preparing for competency based questions

  • Make a list of competences that you think are important for the job for which you are interviewing. It will help to look over the job specification for examples of skills and attributes required.
  • List of situations problems in which you have demonstrated each of these competencies.
  • For each situation/problem list the action you took to handle it and the outcome.
  • Go over your answers before the interview.

Answering competency based questions

Be prepared and provide a clear but brief description of the situation, explain how you handle it , and describe the outcome. By focusing on one specific example, your answer will be concise and relevant for the job you are interviewing for. And, remember, these questions are about you so focus on how you managed the situation not on anyone else.

Be yourself when answering competency questions and use real life examples. These are not questions designed to trip you up, they’re designed to create the best match between you and the job you are applying for.

Competency based questions examples

Below are some typical competency based questions you may come across:

  • Adaptability: Tell us about the biggest change you had to deal with in your previous employment. How did you handle it?
  • Teamwork: describe a time in which members of your team did not get along. How did you handle the situation?
  • Leadership/managerial: tell me about a time you led a group to achieve an objective
  • Analytical: tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem
  • Resilience: describe a time in which you received a negative feedback from an employer, colleague or client. How did you manage this feedback, What was the outcome?

For detailed tips and advice on the different interview formats access Robert Walters Guide.


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