1. What is Competency?
Competencies are those behaviors that you demonstrate at work that make you effective. They are a mixture of knowledge, skills, motivation, and personal
characteristics. In demonstrating your competence you will be showing the skills and the background knowledge necessary for you to perform a particular task effectively, together with the motivation or drive to make things happen.
2. Why are they used?
Our individual skills, attributes, and behaviors make us unique, they also influence the way we react and respond to events in our lives and so how we perform at work. There is a direct relationship between our skills, attributes, and behaviors and our performance at work. It makes sense for interviewers to ask candidates about their competencies and see how they “match” the job requirement. Candidates can assess whether the job matches their competencies so that they would be happy in that role.
3. What is a competency-based interview?
It is an interview in which each candidate is asked the same broad questions which are designed to obtain information about the match between the candidate’s competencies and those required for the job. These questions concentrate on the most important parts of a candidate’s past experience.
This enables the interviewer to draw from each candidate his or her ability to demonstrate successful performance in the job.
4. Why would an employer use a competency-based interview?
Often they are used when previous experience in an industry is not seen as essential, for example, an entry-level or graduate position.
They may also be used to practically test how candidates would react in given situations. So rather than concerning themselves with past achievements, they place emphasis on predicting how an individual would behave in a certain scenario.
The tasks could range from oral and written communication to planning, organization, and problem-solving.
5. What are key competencies?
Skills that employers look for when recruiting. Some key competencies include:
6. Top tips for competency-based interviews
Here are our top tips for competency-based interviews:
Before you arrive at the interview, pick out the key skills highlighted in the job description.
For each one, have a pre-prepared example of how you’ve displayed that attribute.
Use a wide variety of examples where possible, including during school or higher education, any previous employment or work experience, and in your daily life in general.
Don’t lie. They will ask you questions about the subject, and any embellishments you’ve made will be quickly found out.
Don’t try and think on your feet. For reasons, see directly above.
7. What does the interview focus on?
Most interviews will focus on six key areas. These will mostly be competencies, but may also include other knowledge-based essential criteria for example leadership, teamwork, conflict, motivation, creativity, and technical skills related to the job spec. They will be focused on those competencies which are most important for the particular job. You may also be required to meet other, specific essential criteria. This could be in-depth knowledge of a particular area or experience of working in a similar role previously.
8. What does the interview focus on?
Most interviews will focus on six key areas. These will mostly be competencies, but may also include other knowledge-based essential criteria for example leadership, teamwork, conflict, motivation, creativity and technical skills related to the job spec. They will be focused on those competencies which are most important for the particular job. You may also be required to meet other, specific essential criteria. This could be an in-depth knowledge of a particular area or experience of working in a similar role previously.
9. What should I expect in the interview?
Competency-based interview questions are slightly different to the style you may be used to. They will tend to focus on past situations and your behavior in those situations. Questions are likely to start with: "Please give me an example of when. . ." or "Please describe an occasion…" etc.
Example Questions include:
Why are you a good leader?
What type of leadership style do you adopt?
How would those you have led describe you?
Explain a mistake you have made in delegating- what were the consequences?
In what instance would you delegate a task?
What are the advantages of delegating?
Conflict & Pressure
Give an example of an instance when you have had an argument with someone at work? What was the outcome?
How do you react if your boss asks you to do something which conflicts with your own deadlines?
Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
When you joined your last company, how did you get on with your co-workers?
Staff Motivation and Development
What makes a good manager?
How you motivate staff?
What are the three most important events in your career to date?
What are your standards of success in your job?
What is the toughest decision you have had to make while at your present company? Tell me about it.
What alternatives did you consider?
What has been the effect of your decisions on others and what was the wider impact?
10. How do competency-based interviews differ from normal interviews?
Normal interviews are essentially a conversation where the interviewers ask a few questions that are relevant to what they are looking for but without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of you as an individual. For example, a question such as "What can you offer our company?" is meant to gather general information about you but does not test any specific skill or competency. In an unstructured interview, the candidate is judged on the general impression that
he/she leaves; the process is, therefore, likely to be more subjective.
Competency-based interviews (also called structured or behavioral interviews) are more systematic, with each question targeting a specific skill or competency. You will be asked questions relating to your behavior in specific circumstances, which you then need to back up with concrete examples. The interviewers may then dig further into the examples by asking for specific explanations about your behavior or skills.