As part of the interview process you may be asked to do a competency based interview. A competency based interview may be slightly different to other interviews you have been involved in the past and information has been provided below to give a brief introduction to these.

Overview of competency based interviewing

Competency based interviewing is a structured interview approach which aims to gather evidence about how well you are likely to perform in a particular role. This is achieved by asking you to describe past experiences of when you have demonstrated particular competencies (or job relevant behaviours). The reason for exploring your past experiences is that research demonstrates that past behaviour is a strong predictor of future behaviour. You will be asked questions relating to a number of competencies which the company have found predict job success in the role you are applying for. For each competency you will be asked a number of questions to give you more than one opportunity to demonstrate your abilities, and also to ensure the interviewer gathers enough evidence relating to all areas of the particular competency.

In order for a client to be able to fully understand your suitability for the role, it is important that you talk to them about specific past experiences, rather than your general way of working. It is also important that you describe what you actually did, rather than talking about the performance of the team you were a member of. To give you a better understanding of the types of questions you will be asked, the following is the typical format for a competency based interview question: “Describe a time when…” or “Tell me more about....”

Every candidate for a particular job, will be asked the same questions. This is to ensure that everybody gets the same opportunity and the process is completely fair for everyone. Your interviewer will also be taking notes throughout the interview to ensure that they have an accurate record of everything you have said. These two elements in combination may make the interview feel a little impersonal, but it’s to make sure that the process is completely fair and objective, and that your responses are accurately recorded. You will have a chance to learn a bit more about the company at the end of the interview and throughout the rest of the selection event.

Tips for participating in a competency based interview

Before attending the interview:
  • Think about what kinds of behaviours may be important to perform well in the job.
  • Think about times in the past when you have demonstrated your abilities e.g. successful projects, successful interactions with other people, convincing a difficult audience, analysing a large amount of information.
  • Think through exactly what you did in these scenarios and separate your own actions from those of any team you were a part of.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to purely job related examples. You may also have good examples from school/university or your hobbies.
During the interview:
  • Listen carefully to each question and make sure you provide an example of what is being asked. Avoid just telling the interviewers what you want them to know.
  • Talk about a specific example, not about how you generally act.
  • Talk about what you did e.g. “I spoke to lots of different individuals” not “We spoke to…”
Top Tip – When thinking of ‘specific examples’ try not to use the same example for each question asked. Try and think of multiple examples as this will show a greater demonstration of your suitability.