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Mastering Competency Based Interviews

Posted by: Nicola Batty
Company News
Competency based interviews are a great way for an employer to better understand how you may react to future situations. The idea being that a person’s past behaviour is the best predictor for how they will cope with different scenarios in the future.
Phone interviews and screenings have always been a key part of any interview process for many company’s looking to hire the right talent in to their organisation.
Here are our tips on what to expect from a competency-based telephone interview and more importantly, how to impress!


What are competencies?

Competencies are attributes or qualities that can be used to measure against your suitability for a role.

Where some interviews may concentrate on why you applied for the role, what you think you can add to the team or where your interests lie, a competency based interview will require you to describe a past experience to prove that you’re qualified for the role.

Here are some key competencies employers might want to measure you against by hearing clear examples of when you have demonstrated them in a workplace or university environment.

  • Individual competencies – knowledge, independence and personal integrity.
  • Managerial competencies – leadership qualities, time management and delegation.
  • Analytical competencies – decision making abilities and problem solving.
  • Interpersonal competencies – social competence such as building rapport.
  • Motivational competencies – initiative, drive and ambition.

Answering competency based questions with a STAR!

A competency based phone interview should be approached the same as a face to face competency based interview. Aim to answer each question with the STAR method:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

The great advantage of a telephone interview is that you can keep a note of the STAR method in front of you. By using this technique it will help you give a brief, coherent, and structured response to the interview questions.

The interviewer is likely to ask you to describe a situation when you have had to deal with something and explain how you dealt with it.

For example; “Describe a time when you had to explain something complex to a colleague. What problems did you come across and how did you deal with them?” This competency based question is looking at identifying and measuring your communication skills.

Remember - Interviews, whether they are face to face or over the telephone, are about selling your skills and experience aligned to the role which you are interviewing for. Your examples should demonstrate when you have displayed those competencies they’re looking for in a thorough and convincing manner.

How to prepare for competency-based interview questions:

To prepare for competency-based interview questions, make a list of skills and attitudes that you think are important for the job for which you are interviewing. Check the job advert for examples of required abilities. Next, list situations in which you have demonstrated each of these competencies. From this you will be able to use the STAR method to help you structure your examples so you remain concise and objective.

Other competencies which interviewers may question around:

  • Accountability
  • Approachability
  • Delegation
  • Inclusiveness
  • Influencing
  • Initiative
  • Critical thinking
  • Resourcefulness
  • Team work
  • Integrity


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