Competency based questions are designed to let you show that you have the skills and knowledge needed to do the job.  You will be asked additional questions about your character, soft skills and personal attributes that let both you and the employer determine whether you are right for the job. These are called “behavioural competencies”.

A competency based interview is generally focused 50% on your job skills and 50% on your behavioural competencies. The interviewer will assess these by looking for evidence of how you have acted in real life situations in the past so there is preparation that you can do;

  1. Study the job description and start by focusing on the ‘job summary’, make sure you understand what the actual job entails.  With a pen highlight the key responsibilities with a particular focus on an ‘essential skills’.  If they have outlined ‘desirable skills’ it would be advantageous to identify which of these skills you have.  This set of skills could be what differentiate you from the other applicants and help you secure the position.

  2. Using the skills that you have highlighted as a guide, list out all your skills and characteristics that you think will be important both to you and the employer. For example, if the position involves man-management, are you good at monitoring and facilitating your team’s delivery of departmental objectives?

  3. If you are being represented by a Recruitment Consultant ask them ‘what key challenges’ and ‘what skill pre-requisites’ did the employer identify when they took the vacancy brief.  If the Recruitment Consultant is credible they should be able to provide constructive guidance on what the client is looking for.  If they can’t, should you really be working with them?  Probably not.

  4. For each skill identified, think about one or two real life situations in your current or recent jobs which demonstrate how you have used this skill. The employer will want real evidence of what you did to prove that you have this skill, so having some prepared before you get to the interview will help you express yourself clearly.

  5. During the interview take time to think before you give your example, really listen to what the question is. Don’t just rush in with one of your prepared answers if it doesn’t show that you have what they’re looking for. Ask yourself whether this is the best example you can think of.

  6. Be willing to ask the interviewer to clarify a question if you did not hear clearly or understand.

  7. Take time to ask the interviewer about the environment and the people. The questions that you ask are another opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills.  For example, if you were starting a pension plan you would research the financial stability of the provider to ensure that you are making the right decision.  The same principles apply with a new job – it is a life changing decision.

  8. Be enthusiastic!  If you want the job tell them why you want the job.   Thank them for their time and qualify what the next step is or when they will make a decision.