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Competency-based Interviews

Competency-based Interviews

Competency-based interviews aim to assess three things; your knowledge, your skills and your attitude, and will cover competencies described in the job specification.

Your interviewers want to see that you can demonstrate the competencies required for the role, which you will need to do by using specific examples.

The question could be, “Describe a situation that you were in or a task that you needed to accomplish, which had a successful outcome.”. This doesn’t necessarily have to be work related, as long as it’s relevant. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand, but keep it concise, waffling doesn’t usually go down very well! Highlight any specific challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.

The STAR technique is widely recognised and is designed to enable you to provide a meaningful and complete answer to questions which ask for examples.

STAR stands for:
• Situation
• Task
• Action
• Result

Example Question: “Describe a situation where you had to deal with a difficult person”

In answering this question, it is important to keep the focus on you and how you responded and dealt with the situation, it’s not an invitation to start bad-mouthing the person in question. Explain how you came to meet that person and explain what they were doing or how they were behaving which made them difficult. In addition to this, it’s important to explain how you dealt with that person and how any issues between you were resolved. The key here is to show that you are a tolerant person who has the skills and the ability to handle any possible conflict in a calm, reasonable and measured way.

Example Answer:  Set the context for your story. If you can, try to think of a specific situation with a co-worker or customer in which they were being difficult, avoid talking in general about a difficult person as this may morph into the bad-mouthing we’re steering clear of!

(Situation) “I was working as Assistant Manager, my Manager handled the recruitment for the company. A person my Manager had hired started in the role, which was customer-facing. It became apparent quite early on that their attitude with the customers was very abrupt and I received several complaints about the person.

(Task) I decided to speak to the individual to find out a bit more about their previous experience and roles. The person had never worked in a customer-facing role previously and had had next to no training in customer service.

(Action) I decided to set up a training session, not just for the individual as this could have been perceived negatively by them, but instead for the entire staff. This also allowed me to streamline all the processes and customer service protocols to ensure the staff were all delivering the same level of service across the board.

(Result) The person’s level of service and customer interactions improved drastically following the training.”

While there are any number of possible competency questions a hiring manager could ask you, there are specific categories they all fall into:

• Teamwork
• Problem Solving/Planning
• Initiative/Leadership
• Interpersonal Skills/Conflict
• Pressure/Stress

Below are some sample competency questions. See if you can practise some of them using the STAR method!

• Tell me about a time you were in a stressful situation and how you handled it.
• Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict and what you did to resolve it.
• Tell me about a time that you made a mistake in the workplace.
• Describe a time when you were required to work under pressure.
• Tell me about a time that you needed to motivate someone else to accomplish an important task.
• Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
• How do you manage a heavy workload.
• Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
• Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
• Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
• Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.

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