What is a competency-based interview?
A competency-based interview, also known as a structured, behavioural, or situational interview, typically includes activities or tasks that assess a candidate's ability to perform the skills mentioned in their CV and cover letter. It also involves situational-style questions that aim to understand how candidates have utilized specific skills to solve problems.
Asking competency-based questions helps determine how candidates will apply their skills and knowledge in your organization.
What are the best competency-based interview questions to ask?
This list of competency questions encourages candidates to provide real-life examples in their responses. It allows you to understand their decision-making process and evaluate the outcomes of their actions.
Our top 10 competency-based interview questions will assist you in recruiting the skills your team requires.
What are your greatest strengths?
This is a classic interview question for a good reason.
It provides candidates with an opportunity to demonstrate that they possess the necessary skills for the role. Keep the job description in mind to assess whether the candidate understands how their skills align with the role.
Remember, you are looking for transferable skills, not just evidence of prior experience in the same role.
What will your skills and ideas bring to this company?
This competency-based question allows you to identify standout candidates from the pool.
A strong candidate will demonstrate an understanding of your company's goals in their response. An exceptional candidate will provide practical examples of how their skills can contribute to achieving that vision.
What have you achieved elsewhere?
Confidence is crucial when answering this competency-based question. It gives candidates an opportunity to discuss past successes and experiences relevant to the vacancy.
Ensure that the achievements you gather from their answers are work-related and applicable to what you are seeking.
How have you improved in the last year?
Candidates may try to hide their weaknesses, but this competency-based interview question allows them to showcase their willingness to learn from mistakes.
It also provides an opportunity to assess the candidate's self-awareness and desire for personal development.
“Competency-based interview questions ask for real-life examples to show a candidate’s skills.”
Describe a situation where you provided support to a team member facing challenges.
This question aims to assess your ability to demonstrate empathy towards your colleagues while still focusing on achieving your own goals.
Candidates with more experience should be able to discuss instances where they provided training or mentoring to their co-workers, resulting in improved team performance.
Share an example of a time when you had to think quickly and adapt to achieve a goal.
In other words, “can you handle unexpected situations effectively?”
The candidate's response should highlight their ability to remain calm and perform well in scenarios they were not prepared for.
Tell us about the most recent significant decision you had to make.
This question aims to provide insight into your decision-making process and whether your reasoning aligns with the requirements of the role.
This competency-based question is designed to evaluate how you approach decision-making. Do you rely on logical reasoning or gut intuition? Does your decision-making approach align with what we are seeking in a candidate?
Describe a situation where you had to work with someone difficult.
All candidates should have an example of how they handled a challenging colleague. They should answer this question with honesty and a specific scenario of how they resolved the issue. Instead of blaming the other person, they should acknowledge their own role in the situation, and how they would do things differently in the future.
“It’s essential to get a sense of how candidates would fit and thrive within your company culture.”
What did you teach recently?
You have asked the interviewee about their skills, but can they demonstrate an ability to share these skills with others? This question is not limited to managerial or senior positions and should be posed whenever you are looking for a candidate who will contribute to your team.
How do you match this company’s needs?
The essence of this competency-based question is whether the candidate can articulate how their transferable skills would suit your role. This assesses both their self-awareness and their comprehension of what you are seeking in a new employee.
The candidate should be able to persuasively explain why they are interested in working for your company and assure you that they would blend well with your team culture.
If you want to know more about interviews, please reach out to your local recruitment specialist.
How should candidates answer competency-based interview questions?
Jobseekers should share real-life stories when answering competency interview questions. They should pinpoint the competencies you have emphasised in your question and provide concrete, preferably quantifiable, examples of times they’ve applied these skills.
How an interviewee organises an answer to competency questions can give you a great indication of how they handle their work. Answers to competency-based interview questions should follow the STAR method, with candidate descriptions consisting of the following:
Situation – A short background to the situation where they used the skills in question.
Task – What was their objective that required them to use these skills?
Action – How did they go about achieving the task/situation?
Result – What outcome did their approach to the situation produce?
You’re looking for jobseekers to arrange their answers to competency interview questions in a way resembling this. This shows that they have prepared for the interview, and also that they have clear thinking when faced with pressure.
The risk with competency-based interview questions is that candidates can plan for them by using the job description to identify situations or skills you’re likely to ask them about. This can result in them giving pre-made answers which reveal less about how they reason on the spot.
Why is it important to ask competency-based interview questions when hiring?
Asking competency questions enables you to instantly observe how an interviewee would react in work-related situations, eliminating some of the uncertainty of whether the role is right for them.
You will also swiftly determine how they utilise the skills and experience mentioned in their CV and cover letter.