Common Competency-Based Questions To Prepare For

One of the keys to unlocking a great performance at a competency-based interview is anticipating and planning for questions which often come up.

Read on to discover general advice on answering competency-based questions and the specifics of what you are likely to be asked.

Competency style questions

Competency style questions are designed to give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate that they possess the knowledge, skills and experience in each of the areas required for the job.

Identifying the specific competencies associated with the job you are applying for is an important first step. These can usually be found in the job description and person specification. Analyse these documents carefully and make a list of the competencies which the employer is looking for.

Interview questions

Common questions

While each job will have its own set of specific competencies which the employer will want to explore with you at interview, there are some popular questions and common themes. Here are a few to get your preparation started:

Teamwork – the majority of jobs need people who are adept at working in teams. Employers test this skill at interview by asking opening questions such as:

  • Tell me about a team project that you were involved with?
  • Give me an example of a time when you got people to work together effectively?

Follow-up questions include:

  • How did you adapt your behaviour to deal with issues within the team?
  • Tell me more about what you did when team members disagreed?

Communication skills – popular opening questions include:

  • Describe a situation where you had to explain a complex technical issue to people who were non-specialists.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade a colleague or manager to agree with your point of view.

These can be followed up with:

  • How do you make sure that your audience understands what you are telling them?
  • What specific skills do you use to encourage engagement in a conversation or wider discussion?

Problem-solving – this is another topic which frequently comes up. Typical questions include:

  • Provide the panel with details of a time when you had to develop a creative solution to a complex problem.
  • Describe a process you have used in the past to analyse, interpret and address unexpected issues which have arisen in the course of a project.

These are often followed up with more in-depth probing questions such as:

  • How do you deal with risk when problem-solving?
  • Tell us about how you have used a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths)

Leadership -this is an area which may be asked about, depending on the nature of the position applied for. Popular questions include:

  • Tell us about a time when you have led the implementation of a change in an organisation.
  • Describe a situation where you had to gain the commitment of others to achieve strategic goals.

Follow up questions may include:

  • How have you maintained morale in difficult circumstances?
  • Describe the types of challenges you have faced as a leader.

Next steps

Think of examples of times when you have demonstrated each of the competencies. Answers should be concise and specific to the competency being asked about- the ‘STAR’ approach– (S) ituation, (T) ask, (A) ction and (R) esult provides a helpful structure for this. Competency-based interviews usually cover a lot of ground so be sure you hit each of the marks along the way.

For more information about preparing for and performing well at competency-based interviews, read our free information over on the ISC Professional website.