Top tips for a competency based interview

Top tips for a competency based interview

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7 months ago

by Russell Adams

Top tips for a competency based interview

​Top tips for a competency based interview

In todays market there are an increasing number of tools which companies will use to assess individuals capabilities and cultural fit. Despite the innovation and development in this area the Competency based interview is still the “back bone” of most recruitment processes. Given it’s so widely used you will undoubtedly face one as you move through your job search process so understanding and preparing for them should certainly improve your performance. Ultimately, it is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills and ability to do the job you are being assessed for.

So what is the best approach and how do you ensure that you walk away from the meeting confident that you have performed well?

  1. Plan and prepare.

    1. This may sound obvious, but interviews take practice. There will be a number of questions you will naturally be ready for, but there will be many that are designed to challenge you. The key here is to have examples ready but you must deliver them in a natural way. A good interviewer will be able to spot a formulaic, pre-planned answer, and will ask you again if they want to challenge you further. You may be able to give an example of dealing with a difficult situation, but can you name three?

  2. Understand what the competencies are that you are going to be questioned on.                

    1. Most companies, unfortunately not all, will supply you with a list of core skills, or competencies that you will be assessed on. Most will appear on a well written job profile, but if you don’t have them, ask. A good agency will be able to help, as they will most likely have had candidates in the process before. A direct hiring manager will also have access to the information. If they don’t want to supply the information, try to understand why. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t got a job offer because they wanted to be fully briefed.

  3. Use the CAR approach

    1. You may have the best examples to give, however if you can’t articulate them, you will fall down. You may have heard of STAR, but CAR – Context, Action, and Result is a lot simpler to remember. The easiest approach is to set the scene of the example, tell the interviewer what you did, and what the result of this was. This will allow you to tell a story in a natural style, and to talk through your situation in a clear way. It also allows the assessor to question you – this is a good thing! The more the interviewer questions you, the more engaged they are.

  4. Don’t allow the interviewer to put you off your game!

    1. Some classically trained interviewers will follow the ‘script’, showing no emotion and won’t even ask you any questions. They may have a huge amount to get through in a short period of time. Don’t let this put you off! Be confident in your ability to answer the question. There should be an opportunity at the end of the interview to build rapport so use this time wisely.

  5. Expect the unexpected

    1. More and more clients are aware that many questions can be prepared for, so expect a few curve balls. Most recently, a client of mine asked “what piece of living room furniture would you be?” Not technically a competency based interview, but one that will make you think. Also, I have known interviewers to throw a role-play into the middle of an interview to show evidence of the example a candidate gave. So be prepared to be able to back up what you say!

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