So, what's a competency based interview and why are they so prevalent nowadays? Well, you know you're in a competency based interview if you're asked to describe how you dealt with certain situations in the past. And the big deal about them is that they're a very effective way for the interviewer to get a feel for what you're like 'in action' and whether you’ve got the background and skills they're looking for. Your current performance will dictate your future behaviour which is why this style of interview is a great indictor of how you’ll perform, if you get the job.

Answering competency based questions

Page Personnel recommends using the STAR(R) technique to answer competency based questions:

  • The Situation
  • The Task required as a result
  • The Action you took
  • The Result of that action
  • (The Reflection of those actions and results)

It's all very well having a technique for answering questions but wouldn't it help to know what sort of questions to expect? Page Personnel is one step ahead of you and has put together a list of key competency questions, grouping them into five areas - individual, managerial, analytical, interpersonal and motivational - for ease of understanding.

Individual competencies

These refer to your personal attributes; your flexibility, decisiveness, tenacity, knowledge, independence, risk taking and personal integrity.

A typical question may be:

Tell me about a time when you have had your idea challenged at work?

Managerial competencies

These refer to your ability to take charge of other people; leadership, empowerment, strategic thinking, corporate sensitivity, project management and managerial control.

A typical question may be:

Tell me about a time you led a group to achieve an objective?

Analytical competencies

These refer to your decision making abilities; innovation, analytical skills, problem solving, practical learning and attention to detail.

A typical question may be:

Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem?

Interpersonal competencies

These refer to social competence. Many workplaces function on the basis of project teams and the more collaborative they are, the more likely they are to thrive.

A typical question may be:

What do you think are the three most crucial things about communication?

Motivational competencies

These refer to the things that drive you; resilience, energy, motivation, result orientation, initiative and quality focus.

A typical question may be:

When did you work the hardest and feel the greatest sense of achievement?

Finally remember, be yourself when answering competency questions; use real life examples and relate them to your experience, how you reacted or how it made you feel. These are not trick questions; they are designed to create the best match between an individual and an organisation. We don’t want to place you in a job which you wouldn’t be competent to do, but we do want to find you a challenging role that will play to your strengths.

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