Competency Based Interviews and How to Stand Out

Career Tip #1: Competency Based Interviews and How to Stand Out


Competency based interviews are now a crucial part of the interview process, and give you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition that you are up against. In job market that is crowded with candidates all competing for the same role, having the platform to showcase skills and experience in a literal sense could be the difference between securing a position or not.
Our Career Tips aims to provide you with the tools you need to succeed in finding and securing roles to support your future career development. Competency based interviews are a critical part of the tool kit for success, and we believe getting it right at the interview stage can make the difference to your chances of success.

The Interview Purpose

Interviews are a crucial part of the recruitment process for all organisations. Their purpose is to give the interviewer(s) a chance to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role and the candidate to demonstrate their abilities and personality. One of the frequent ways organisations assess candidates’ suitability is in the use of competency-based questions.

Faced with a pool of candidates who on paper may all have similar or equal attributes for the job, a hiring manager will have to make a decision based on a meeting with the candidates. He/she may decide to use competency-based questioning as a technique to identify previous performances in key areas, analyse them and determine if the candidate has the required experience, behaviour and potential to fulfil the new role. The focus of the interviews will be determined by the competencies required to perform the job.

Key Competencies Identified

Competencies relate to the job role and values of the company and can be found in a job description. Key competencies for a job may include: decision making, leadership, problem solving, conflict resolution, customer service skills, management, project management, budgetary control, commercial awareness and team work. The key to answering related questions is to be specific in your response and avoid generalisations.

The STAR Technique

One of the recommended ways to achieve this is using the STAR technique:

  • S – Situation – describe the background of a particular situation when you used the key competency in question
  • T – Task – describe what your particular task was in relation to this
  • A – Action – describe the action you took
  • R – Result – describe the result of the action).

Using the STAR technique will help you stay focused on the question; demonstrate your suitability and present clear evidence to show you are capable of fulfilling the role. It is also important that you only use examples that end positively or with your learning from the situation. For every interview, remember to also research on and identify the mission statement and values of the company as you will probably be questioned on these too. Interviewers always look for a fit for the company as well as the role.

Finally, any interview should be a two-way process; it is also a good opportunity for you to ask relevant questions that can help determine if the organisation and position are right for you.
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