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What are Competency Interviews?

It is widely known that today most interviews are ‘competency based’ but what does this really mean? Essentially the interview is based on the idea that your past behaviours and experiences are the best indicators of your future performance. Competency Interview Coaching helps you draw out the best examples to substantiate competency interview questions based on your employment history, college and university, volunteer work and personal interests. This will help you achieve the highest assessment and be the strongest candidate. Normally the job specification will indicate the competencies or behaviours required and these can often be found in the person specification. Importantly, a behaviour interview is the same as a competency interview. The interview questions will be trying to assess your experience against each competency or behaviour required. Competency interview questions can often start with: ‘Can you give me an example when …..” or “Tell me about a time when ….”

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Competency Interview Tips

  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. Do not 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  your details and we will get back to you the same day.

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Common Competencies

Competency Definition
Building Capability Building 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 Thinking The ability to view situations from a commercial perspective. At lower levels there should be an understanding of the importance of costs and efficiencies to the organisation developing to a level where commercially focused decisions are made.
Communication and Influence 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 Orientation 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 Performance Taking responsibility for business performance; setting the standards, reviewing performance against these, anticipating issues and responding appropriately to drive and improve business performance.
Organisational Awareness 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 Organising 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 and make effective decisions or recommendations
Responsiveness The 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.
Stakeholder Management 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 Leadership For 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.

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If you are looking for help with your interview Book A Free Consultation.  If you are applying for a Civil Service role then competency interviews have been replaced by behaviour interviews for more information:

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