Competency Based Interviewing

Competency based interviewing is a style that the majority of current employers have adapted and utilized as part of their recruitment process.

Why is this so beneficial? Why is it used? How does it work? We will aim to cover all the questions today and how realistically perform at your best.

Firstly, competency based questions are interview questions that require a “real life” example to prove competency. This allows candidates to explain why certain decisions were made and what were the tangible measurable outcomes.

Examples of Competency Based Questions

  • Can you tell me about a time you overcame a problem, what would you do differently?
  • Describe a situation where you implemented change?
  • Describe an achievement that you are proud and tell us why?
  • Tell us about a time you had to deal with conflict within your team?

How Do We Answer Them?

It’s important you create a formula in order to answer a question. It is very easy to get side tracked in an interview and more importantly move on a tangent without really answering the question. This will ultimately leave the interviewer prompting or pressing for more information.

A good place to start is giving examples from work, personal life and if recently graduated or completed further education example and from study.

Although the key point is to ensure you have a variety of examples and different scenarios for each question.

Although again difficult, try to avoid going into too much background. Your interviewer or potential employer wants to know more about you as a person and the actions you take. Make sure your answers are relevant to the questions you have been asked.

Don’t fabricate your answers. Interviewers are exceptionally good at spotting this and would pretty much guarantee that you didn’t get the job.

Techniques for Answering Competency Based Questions

Both techniques are fairly well known when it comes to interviewing and are very effective in ensuring you are able to answer each question correctly.


  • Situation: Describe the scenario
  • Task: Describe what task is required
  • Action: Detail what actions you took
  • Result:  Comment on the result of your actions


  • Context: Describe the scenario faced, date and place
  • Action: Forms the main body and should be longest part of your answer
  • Result: The conclusion from the actions that you took

Sounds relatively straight forward but this method allows you to structure your answer correctly ensuring that it flows. When the answer flows and has structure comes across as a lot more positive and shows that you have come prepared to the interview. Importantly, if you have having a memory blank there is nothing wrong with asking for time if you cannot immediately think of an example.

Types of Competency

Usually each question would either fall under behavioral competencies or technical competencies.

  • Behavioral Competencies: Usually an expression of softer skills involved in performance
  • Technical Competencies: Technical skills required for the job

Common Competencies

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Customer Service
  • Results Orientation
  • Problem Solving

Have a think about the competencies above and try to look into your career and think of examples of where you have used these skills to ensure you are fully prepared for your next interview.

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