Competency Based Interview Questions: How To Answer

Answering competency based interview questions can be tough!

If you have been invited to a job interview, then there is a good chance that you will need to prepare for competency based interview questions . Competency based interview questions are the most popular way for employers to ascertain whether you are the right person for the role, and are used in almost every single job interview. So, how can you prepare for these questions? And what kind of things will they ask? In this blog, we’ll investigate.

What is a competency based interview?

A competency based interview is designed to help employers identify how your behaviour meets with their own expectations. In order to do this, the questions will present you with a range of job-related situations, and will ask you to provide specific details of how you have behaved and acted under such circumstances. This means that you will have to give an extremely thorough account of the situation, and how you dealt with it. The more detail that you can provide, the better.

How to prepare for a competency based interview

As you might have guessed, good preparation is fundamental to competency based interview success. In order to prepare effectively for a competency based interview you must first of all learn the competencies for the job you have applied for. Let’s assume you are applying for a sales managers post with a large retail company. The competencies you will need to carry out the role competently include:

1. An ability to work under pressure.

2. A requirement to meet strict sales targets on a monthly basis.

3. An ability to organise and manage ones own workload and priorities.

4. Effective team working

5. Being capable of liaising with and working alongside key clients and stakeholders.

So, how do you answer these competency based interview questions? The key is to learn the qualities and competencies required for the role. Once you have done this you should then come up with specific examples of when you have already demonstrated them in a previous role. Once you have a copy of the competencies you are being assessed against, you will then be able to prepare for the interview questions. Now, let’s look at some of the potential competency based questions you might expect to see in YOUR interview.

Job applicant having a competency interview

Example Competency Based Interview Questions

Question 1

Please provide an example of when you have achieved consistent sales targets over a 12 month period?

Question 2

What would be your first priority if you were successful in this role?

Question 3

How would you ensure that our key clients and stakeholders needs are met?

Question 4

What are the key qualities of an effective team?

Question 5

Can you provide an example of where you have worked as part of a team?

Question 6

Can you give an example of when you have prioritised a difficult working week which involved a requirement to meet tough sales targets?

You can see that all of the above competency based interview questions are derived from the person specification for the role of a sales manager. Before you apply for any job or attend an interview, it is strongly advised that you obtain a copy of the job description or person specification, as these will include the competencies and qualities that you are going to be assessed against at interview. If you have these then you will be able to predict the interview questions.

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If you are in need of further competency based interview advice, check out our FANTASTIC resource on How To Pass An Interview!


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