Competency Based Interview Questions in 2024: Examples and Tips
Competency Based Interview Questions in {YEAR}: Examples and Tips

Competency Based Interview Questions in 2024: Examples and Tips

What Is a Competency Based Interview?

A competency based interview is a type of behavioral interview used by employers to test certain skills (or competencies) of a candidate and assess their suitability for the role.

The interview consists of a list of questions that are designed to discover how the interviewee used certain skills in a situation, task or experience.

The tests can also be referred to as a structured, behavioural or situational test, and it is used by recruiters mainly as a first stage interview.

Answers given by the candidate are marked against certain criteria that have already been decided and are based on previous answers that have set a standard for the test.

Some may think that this type of interview sounds like a regular traditional interview; however, there are significant differences.

What Is the Difference Between a Competency Based Interview and a Traditional Interview?

Traditional interviews will commonly focus around the job role that the candidate is being interviewed for, which means that there will not be a list of set skills based interview questions, but rather general questions.

The traditional interview is designed to see if the applicant will fit in with the company and to get their general opinions on certain things, compared to the competency interview, which is looking for skills rather than opinions and personality.

Sample Common Competency-Based Interview Questions (2024)

There are some standard set questions that are used in the competency interview.

Some examples of the types of questions you might be asked in a competency-based interview are listed below:

1. Give an Example of a Time at Work When You Have Had to Manage a Conflict

This question is looking specifically at problem-solving, and how, if presented with a conflict, you can offer a solution. This could be an internal issue with a team member/co-worker or an encounter with a difficult client.

The employer is asking this question to first establish what the candidate’s work history is like, and how many times they’ve come into conflict in the workplace.

The main reasoning, though, is to see how the candidate would manage the situation, as this tells the employer much about their management and teamwork skills.

The response to the question above could be something like this:

I had two team members who didn't get on who didn't get on personally, but shared a client so needed to work together on this project.

The initial meetings between them did not go well, so I decided to act as a mediator to establish how the two would be happy working together.

It turns out one wanted to do the admin side of the project, with the other wanting to deal with the client.

Once I fed this back to each individual, we seemed to reach something that meant they could work together.

2. Can You Explain What You Regard as Your Biggest Achievement to Date?

Here, the interviewee is looking at the candidate’s goal orientations. What they regard as a big achievement will indicate how big their goals are in life.

The employer would perhaps use this information to set objectives for the new recruit. They will also be able to use the information to know how far the candidate is wanting to go in their career.

One example of a good response to this would be discussing how you managed to work hard over time, showing commitment and passion to beat colleagues to the much-wanted promotion,

It would be good to discuss what your boss said to you when they gave you the promotion, highlighting your strengths and skill.

There was a promotion coming up in my current job that was highly sought-after within the business.

I understood it was going to be competitive so it required me to work hard, ensuring I was thoroughly prepared by researching the role, proving my commitment by showing my level of work and networking with the current team of the role I was applying for too.

I even took it upon myself to meet with the person in the current position to ask for guidance. I did get the promotion.

3. Describe a Big Decision You Have Had to Make in the Workplace

This analyses the decision-making skills of the candidate. Decision-making can be an everyday part of many job roles, so it’s important to know how somebody deals with them.

The employer will also be able to assess here what the candidate regards as a big or difficult decision, as this could have an effect on if they would be right for the role. Something big to one person is often something not so big to someone else.

Examples here could be related to money, such as spending much on a marketing campaign. It could be that you were involved in the process of hiring someone or deciding on something for one of the company’s clients.

We were looking to expand our client base with a promotion and needed to get the word out there. So we approached some marketing companies.

My job was to interview them all and assess their pitches to make the choice of who to employ before getting the sign off from my boss.

My decision needed to be based on budget, who would be able to reach the target audience the best and most effectively, weighing in cost dependent on if the promotion wasn't successful and who understood the business the best.

4. Can You Give an Example of When You Have Had to Lead a Team?

As expected, this question is focusing on the strength of the person’s leadership skills, in addition to assessing responsibility and organisational skills too.

The employer is likely to have their own preference of leadership, so they will want an insight into how the person being interviewed approaches it. This question will also give an example of the candidate’s work history.

In my previous marketing role, I was leading a project for a very big client.

Towards the end of the project, the client decided to completely change the design of the project, but still needed the same deadline.

This ment my team needed to work smarter to get it complete but me ensuring they didn't have burnout.

We worked in shifts so everyone got the brek they needed, and I prioritised this and give other projects to other teams so we could focus solely on this one.

Competency Based Questions in : Examples and Tips
Competency Based Questions in : Examples and Tips

5. How Do You Create a Positive Environment For Your Team at Work?

The employer is looking at communication skills. How can the individual communicate to their staff a positive culture?

The reason the employer has asked this question is because part of the manager's role is to ensure the wellbeing and happiness of the team is looked after. The employer will be looking for strategies and policies adopted by the candidate.

One example that could be used here is to talk about employee engagement – regular catch ups, inclusivity, flexible working and communication are all ways to help with this positive environment.

Creating a positive environment includes inclusivity and listening to your employees.

I’d request regular catch ups, both informal and formal with individuals and the tem, so they can put forward suggestions of where we could improve on wellbeing and morale for example.

What Core Competencies Do Recruiters Look For?

The key competencies you need to evidence will vary depending on the role you are applying for.

The best way to identify the competencies you need will be the job description and job advert.

However, here are some common competencies that are the most important to evidence in the majority of job interviews.

Remember to evidence these with specific examples from your last job, work experience placement or past experiences.

  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Trustworthiness
  • Responsibility
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Professional Development
  • Technical Skills
  • Adaptability
  • Time management

How to Answer Competency Interview Questions in 2024

We’ve touched on the contents of how to answer these questions, but there’s other things to bear in mind too.

The key to answering the competency based interview questions is to follow the STAR method, which consists of including the:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

This ensures you give an example of a situation you displayed a core competency in your last job and therefore provide sufficient evidence for each of your points.

Candidates should explain in detail the given situation and task. This includes stating what the task was, who was involved, where it took place and when.

The interviewee then needs to describe the action taken, starting with the different options for action and which one was chosen and why. They can mention what made them come to that decision.

The last part of the answer will detail what the results of the actions were, including any positive and negative outcomes, and any figures and statistics or testimonials that can back it up.

How to Prepare for a Competency Based Interview in June 2024

Although these interviews are not straightforward – in that you won’t know the exact questions beforehand – there are some commonly used questions. This means there is a chance for some preparation.

Here are some step-by-step ways you can prepare.

Step 1. Do Your Research

Look at the job description, look at the employer’s website or in employee forums and try to get an insight into the core skills it is looking for in an employee.

From there, you should be able to predict some of the likely questions and prepare answers for them.

Step 2. Practice!

Try to go through as many examples of competency based questions as you can and find situations and scenarios in the past that you can use as examples.

Practise your answers as much as you can, remembering the the STAR technique, and give as much detail as you can. Do not be afraid to give two examples if you think that is necessary.

It could be worth setting up a scenario with a friend or family member, where they play the employer and ask you some simple questions. This way you get to practise under interview circumstances.

Step 3. Know Your Best Skills

Try to highlight your best skills in the job interview – for example, be confident and communicate well, which will tell the interviewer that you possess good qualities.

But do not make up skills and answers that you think the employer wants to hear – if you get the job, you’ll need to prove it.

Step 4. Be Flexible

Be prepared to be flexible in the interview and be ready to adapt answers to fit the questions that you may not have expected.

Frequently Asked Questions

In a competency based interview you should expect skills based interview questions. They are situational-based questions that test a number of core competencies.

When preparing for a competency based interview, you can look online at the employer’s website to assess what type of skills they are looking for in an employee.

This will then mean you can predict the questions that will be asked, allowing you to compile a competency based interview questions list and prepare your answers.

You can also look up the most common competency questions online to get a better idea of what you might be asked.

With preparation and the possession of the right skills, the competency based interviews do not need to be hard.

Employers are looking for a particular set of skills that you should try and find out before applying for the job – and this will help you when it comes to answering competency based questions in the interview.

Reviewing the most common competency questions online will also help.

The competency based interview is scored based on a certain predetermined criteria that look for evidence of certain skills.

It is best to answer these questions as concisely and correctly as you can, giving lots of detail and using the STAR approach. It is vital to be honest too; do not just say what you think the employer wants you to say.

Try to ask questions that will benefit you, and could also impress the employer. It could be good to ask about the culture of the business or the history of the business. You could also ask what the next step is and when you’re likely to find out if you’ve been successful.

By looking online at forums for employees, in addition to Wikijob and other job training websites, you'll be able to find simple questions for the competency-based interview.

Final Thoughts

The competency based interview asks a set of questions to assess a candidate’s possession of certain skills. The questions are situational and look at the individual’s experience and job history.

Remember to prepare as best you can – by researching competency based interview questions and answers – and good luck!

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