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How to Navigate Competency Interviews (Interview Advice)

Competency Interviews – What to Expect and How to Prepare


What more stressful experience exists in an adult’s life than attending a job interview? Whether it's your first or tenth interview, it's often difficult to know what to look out for and how to prepare. Competency interviews are a bit different to the usual style of interviewing – but with the right approach you can use these questions to your advantage in order to impress your potential future employer.



Competency interviews are very common amongst employers – all they ask is that you give an example from your previous experience in response to a question. As opposed to traditional interviewing, competency interview questions are based on the idea that 'past behaviour predicts future behaviour’. Employers will ask their you competency questions to determine how they behave in certain situations. Those competency questions are designed to test your aptitude, attitude and capability.




In order to perform well in a competency interview, preparation is the key. Firstly, researching the company is essential. Ensure you know who they are, what drives their success, and what kinds of questions they’d be likely to ask at the interview. Understanding the specifics of what the job involves is equally important - you would have most likely done this prior to making an application, but it’s worth a refresher prior to the interview.


Another way to prepare for a competency interview is to have answers to questions ready. The best way to go about it is to focus on the “STAR” method which stands for: situation, task, action and result.

This method really helps you structure your answers, as opposed to providing a “yes or no” answer.


Situation: what was the context of the experience?

Task: what was the goal of the experience?

Action: what was your role and what did you do to achieve the goal?

Result: what was the result of the task you did?


It’s worth noting here that when using the STAR method, it’s important to include tangible metrics to demonstrate the success of the action taken where applicable. This could be anything from money saved, revenue increase or more customers coming through the door.


What to Expect


Many companies combine competency interviewing techniques with traditional job interviews, which usually involve questions about industry knowledge and technical skills. Interviewers will likely heavily focus on how you handled certain situations in your past – what you did, how you did it and the result of your action. Questions will probably be open-ended, so try to apply the STAR method for each one in order to provide the most comprehensive answer possible. It’s also important to remain calm and be honest. This is not the time to try and portray yourself as a superhero and overstate your achievements – focus on your successes and learn from your mistakes.


In order to make a lasting impression as a candidate, it’s also a good idea to come up with some questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the process. Research the questions you’d like to ask ahead of the interview. Questions related to the job (e.g. “What will be the greatest challenge in this job?”) as well as questions about the company (e.g. “What team within the company do you consider to be the most successful and why?”) are all useful topics to discuss.




Hopefully, with these tips in mind, you will feel more confident and prepared when attending a competency interview. Remember, it’s ok if you don’t know the answer to a competency question – the best thing to do in that situation is to be as honest and detailed as possible in your response.


Good luck with your interview!


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