Competency interviewing – are you prepared?

behavioural interviewing

Competency interviewing – are you prepared?

 Competency based interviewing is also called behavioural interviewing. It is example based and one can feel put on the spot, especially if you have not done one before. It is likely that you be asked some standard interview questions e.g. tell us about yourself, what are your main strengths, why are you interested in our business etc so do be prepared for both. It is surprising as to how many great candidates prepare for a “normal” interview and get stuck when thrown competency related questions.

Why are they done?

Competency interviewing means that every candidate can be asked the same question and rated against the set of competencies required for the specific role. It is a way of interviewing in a consistent manner and being able to effectively benchmark candidates against each other. In my experience, it tends to be done by the larger companies. It also means that HR teams can also interview, even if they do not have a research expertise since the questions for a specific role will be set against the same set of competencies.

Some examples which apply to most levels of experience are:

Interview Competency - Communication 

Communicates effectively, listens sensitively, adapts communication to audience and fosters effective communication with others


 • Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation?
• Describe a situation where you had to explain something complex to a colleague or a client. Which problems did you encounter and how did you deal with them?
• Give us an example where your listening skills proved crucial to an outcome.
• Tell us about a time when you were asked to summarise complex points.


• How do you feel writing a report differs from preparing an oral presentation?
• What positive and negative feedback have you received about your writing skills? Give an example where one of your reports was criticised.

Interview Competency - Creativity and Innovation

Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.

• Tell us about a project or situation where you felt that the conventional approach would not be suitable. How did you derive and manage a new approach? Which challenges did you face and how did you address them?
• Tell us about a situation where you trusted your team to derive a new approach to an old problem. How did you manage the process?
• Tell us about a time when you had to convince a senior colleague that change was necessary. What made you think that your new approach would be better suited?

Interview Competency - Influencing

 Ability to convince others to own expressed point of view, gain agreement and acceptance of plans, activities or products.

• Describe a situation where you were able to influence others on an important issue. What approaches or strategies did you use?
• Describe a situation where you needed to influence different stakeholders who had different agendas. What approaches or strategies did you use?
• Tell us about an idea that you manage to sell to your boss, which represented a challenge.

These are just a couple of examples. Other competencies would typically include Independence, Flexibility, Decisiveness, Leadership, Teamwork etc

Preparation for these are key and your recruiter should be able to advise you on the format of the interview. I hope you find this snap shot useful. You can contact Bridget Barry to discuss competency interviewing in more detail or you can visit our website for further advice  

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