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How to Prepare for a Competency Based Interview: Guide


What happens when you go fully prepared for an interview, but the interview doesn’t seem interested in your experience and qualifications! It might look you have been targeted with a ‘competency-based interview’. You must have heard about group interview or telephonic interview, but have you ever listened to competency based interviews. Don’t worry as there is always a first time!

prepare for competency interview

Just like its name suggests, such an interview is conducted to test you for your competence. It is carried in places where the interviewer needs to judge your skills and behavior for the vacant position in his company. Companies organize such interviews in situations when previous qualifications and experience of the candidate is not much necessary. Hence, it may be conducted either at the meeting of a fresh graduate or for job positions that require exceptional skills or may be during times when the candidate has to work in a team. The main reason for organizing such interviews is to check how the candidate would behave during a different state of affairs within the organization.

The entire interview session may range from written and oral communication to planning, problem-solving, organization, and more. The key competencies for which a candidate may be assessed are:

1. Managerial Competencies:

You are tested for how you can handle other employees in the organizations. Your qualities such as empowerment, leadership, corporate sensitivity, strategic planning, management control, project management, and more are tested under this behavioral norm.

2. Individual Competencies:

Your personal behaviors are tested in this regard, such as flexibility, tenacity, personal integrity, decisiveness, independence, risk-taking, and more.

3. Interpersonal Competencies:

How you deal with other individuals and how you communicate with them is of very much importance. So you might get judged for norms such as how you respond to other people, impact, communication, personal awareness, persuasiveness, openness, teamwork, and more.

4. Analytical Competencies:

If you are invited for a senior position then this may be the competence behavior for which you may be assessed. Decision-making elements, problem-solving, analytical skills, detail consciousness, practical learning, and more might be the core competencies for your assessment.

5. Motivational Competencies:

For a position that requires an extremely motivated personality, the candidate might get tested for resilience, achievement orientation, focus, motivation, initiative, and more.

Competency Based Interview Questions:

Depending upon the requirements and for the sector for which you will be recruited, the interviewer may ask different competency based questions to you. Some such questions are as follows:

1. Tell us about an instance when you had to discover the underlying causes to a problem?
2. What are your long-term career goals and how are you preparing to accomplish them?
3. Tell me about a situation when you behaved over and above the expectations of your job role?
4. List out some of your accomplishments that gave you maximum satisfaction?
5. Describe a situation when you had to work flexibly?
6. Brief me about a difficult customer and his problems that you dealt successfully?
7. Tell me how you schedule and organize your work?
8. Tell about the most difficult decision that you have made so far?
9. Give an example when you were able to cater client’s requirements successfully?
10. Discuss a sensitive situation when extensive communication was required from your side?
11. Describe a situation when a conflict arose in the team and you handled it while being a team member?
12. Describe the organization’s culture in which you were previously working in and how it helped to achieve your goals?
13. Tell me some ways that you adopt to deal with stressful situations?
14. Can you tell about situations when you have to change your working time or style quickly in order to get the work done?
15. Give an example when you were successful to stop a problem from occurring within the work premises?
16. Tell us about any of your decision that created an impact over employees of other departments?
17. Have you ever imparted coaching to any of your previous employee? Did you succeed or was it a failure?
18. Can you state a situation when you have to work in a team with a person whom you personally do not like?
19. Describe about a situation when you have to solve a problem but you didn’t have enough information with you?
20. Describe a time when you have to go out of way to assist a client. What was the outcome of the situation?

These are only a few questions, depending on the situation; more similar questions may be put against you to judge your competencies and their efficacies.

Competency Based Interview Techniques:

But you don’t have to worry! As the best thing is that there are some techniques that you can adopt to answer successfully all kinds of questions related to such an interview. The methods that you may use to respond to questions under the competency based interview are:

1. STAR Technique:

This may also be referred as ‘SOAR’, where Task is replaced with Objective.
Situation – Describe the situation.
Task – Tell about the tasks required of you.
Action – Brief the interviewer about activities implemented by you.
Result – Conclude by describing the outcome of an action.

2. CAR Technique:

In this technique ‘C’ stands for context, where context is your introduction, where you need to describe a situation that you faced. ‘A’ stands for action and must be the longest section of your answer. ‘R’ stands for a result that is achieved by an action.
Context – Tell about the situation and task you faced with, where, whom and when?
Action – Describe actions that you implemented?
Result – Tell about results that you achieved with your actions?

Typical Competency Based Interview Questions:

The typical competency questions are those that fit well to all sectors and may be asked for the interview for any position. So, check out the standard or by better saying ‘fit to all’ competency questions:

1. Describe a situation when you worked in a team?
2. Tell me about a situation when you influenced others in favor of your decision?
3. What kind of difficult people did you deal with your previous job?
4. What are your career goals and how our organization will help fulfill them?
5. List down your strengths and weaknesses?
6. What is your biggest achievement?
7. What are your hobbies?
8. Why this job position is fit for you?
9. Are you flexible in work and can you work with a team?
10. Can you state me an example when you were under the stress of meeting a strict deadline? How did you manage it?
11. Describe a time when you resolved a difficult problem on your own?
12. Give an example of the time when you have to make a significant decision in very less time? What was the outcome?
13. Tell me about a situation when you were not able to communicate properly with others?
14. Tell me instances when your leadership skills helped the company to take right decisions or earn rewards?
15. Discuss a situation when you were not able to finish a task successfully?

How to Pass a Competency Based Interview:

Besides the above techniques, you may also follow certain guidelines or ways to pass the competency based interview test with full marks.

1. Stay concise:

No matter what situation you are discussing, make sure you answer in a concise and clear way. Focus on any one example and ensure that your response is succinct and related with the topic highlighted in the question.

2. Be natural:

When you are answering a question related to a problem make sure that you do not appear blaming anyone. Focus on your sole actions and do not discuss other individual’s failures or troubles.

3. Be prepared:

Before you finally reach the interview, just read out the key skills listed in the job description. At least, prepare an answer for one question related to each competency.

4. Don’t lie:

No matter what, make sure that you do not discuss any false incidence or state any incorrect answer. Maybe they may ask you a question related to the situation, for which you don’t have any reply.

5. Don’t mix situations and answers:

If you go prepare for some answers then make sure that you don’t mix the two during the time of an interview. Don’t present solution belonging to one competency for a question asked to judge another competency.

6. Practice:

Just like you do for other kinds of interviews, even practicing for this interview is also extremely essential. So make sure you practice well so that you can confidently answer all sorts of questions asked during the time of your interview.

Competency based interviews are not as hard to crack as you may consider. The interviewer may ask you questions related to any competency. Such questions are only to judge your traits, skills and methods of working. Competency based questions give you an opportunity to highlight your abilities and sell them.

While answering such question, you may think about particular job role for which you are giving an interview and the competencies expected from a successful candidate. Then try coming up with some authentic examples from your past professional life and attempt to correlate the examples with the skills. Finally, explain answers in a way that is clear, concise and emphasize on your core abilities.