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Preparing for a competency based interview

freelancersToday most interviews are competency based but what does it mean? Essentially the interview is based on the idea that your past behaviour and experiences are the best indicator of your future performance. This past experience can be drawn from your employment history, college and university, volunteer work and personal interests. Normally the job specification will indicate the competences required. These can often be found under the person specification. The interview questions will be trying to assess your experience against each competency required.

Competency interview questions can often start with ‘Can you give me an example when …..” or “Tell me about a time when ….”


Useful tips to prepare for your interview

  1. Research the position. Take time to understand the competencies and technical skills required.
  2. Think about a range of examples based around your accomplishments. Be aware of the specific skills and competencies each example illustrates and remember to include the positive outcome or lessons learned from each experience. Use your CV to jog your memory.
  3. Structure your answers using the STAR approach. Situation, Task, Action, Result.
  4. The assessors are interested in what you did, how you did it and the end result of your actions, so make sure you are specific and focus on your part rather than what the team did.
  5. Ensure your examples provide evidence of “how” you went about things (i.e. the behaviours you demonstrated).
  6. Don’t assume that the interviewer knows how things are done where you work at the moment.

If you are not sure how to identify the competency required or which examples to draw on from your experience then you would benefit from the Interview Preparation Coaching session.  Use the contact form to leave me your details and I will get back to the same day.


Common Competencies  

Building CapabilityBuilding own and others capability through feedback and learning or development opportunities to ensure that the organisation has the required capabilities to meet business needs.
Change & Innovation The ability to respond to, manage or lead business improvements or
change in the organisation in order to meet its strategic priorities and realise benefits from change. Within the context of a continuously changing organisation
the individual will demonstrate resilience and flexibility.
Commercial ThinkingThe ability to view situations from a commercial perspective. At lower
levels there should be an understanding of the importance of cost and efficiencies to the organisation developing to a level where commercially focused decisions are made.
Communication and
An individual’s ability to engage, persuade, convince or influence others (individuals or groups), through their communication style and approach, in order to get them to go along with or to support their agenda. Incorporated into this, is the individual’s ability to understand and anticipate their audience’s position or response and adapt their message
in order to gain their commitment.
Customer Service
Focusing one’s efforts on providing good customer service. At higher levels this involves balancing customers’ needs alongside other priorities & constraints (e.g. budget, resource).
Managing Business
Taking responsibility for business performance; setting the standards,
reviewing performance against these, anticipating issues and responding
appropriately to drive and improve business performance.
The ability to understand the organisation, its customers, stakeholders and critical relationships within and outside. This includes the ability to recognise the impact of individuals / groups, interactions and how
decisions are made in the organisation.
Planning and
The ability to establish a course of action for self and or others, and
manage time, resources and surrounding circumstances to deliver to their
objectives. Planning and organising should be seen in the context of taking action and not simply thinking about future actions.
Problem Solving &
Decision Making
Identifying and interpreting various sources of information & evidence to
understand a situation or problem in order to reach conclusions make effective decisions or recommendations
ResponsivenessThe ability to adapt to and work effectively within a variety of situations, individuals and/ or groups. Responsiveness entails being flexible and
adapting one’s approach as the requirements of a situation change, and
responding in a time conscious way.
Results Focus
Delivering business / performance results in the organisation to time/budget/quality.
This includes looking for ways to improve performance and add value to the organisation.
Managing stakeholder relationships in order to support delivery of
objectives. Primary focus is on the activities aligned to stakeholder
management that support managing stakeholder relationships.
Strategic Thinking
Understanding, developing and implementing concepts, plans and ideas which are aligned to long-term plans. This includes developing and
translating the overarching vision and direction for the local business area
and/or wider organisation and setting out plans to deliver corporate strategy.
Team LeadershipFor those that have responsibility for others, this is about providing strong
management and leadership skills. The focus is on instilling trust and
confidence in others and improving team, functional or organisational
performance. The individual will be expected to lead others.