How to handle competency-based interview questions | Pareto

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Competency-based questions are quite different to direct questions as they elicit for inform...

Competency-based questions are quite different to direct questions as they elicit for information from an interviewee. 

For example, instead of being asked whether you like to work as a part of a team, you’ll be asked to describe a time when you’ve worked in a team. Basically, they want you to use your past life experiences to show how you are capable of doing the job.

Competency-based interview questions are much more logical, with each question aimed to expose your abilities and skills.  You’ll need to back up your answers with good, strong examples of when you’ve demonstrated the particular competency they’re testing. Interviewers will also often dig further into the examples by asking for further specific explanations.

The questions you could be asked will vary depending on the business sector, the level of responsibility you’ll have, the specific role and the company who is interviewing you.

Therefore, preparation is essential if you want to confidently answer all questions coming your way.

Make sure you…

  • Read the job description thoroughly and take note of all the key skills they mention. For example, if it says "good communication skills” think of a few examples where you can showcase these skills.
  • Look at the company values to understand the company culture. Some businesses state ‘innovation’ is a key brand value, therefore you may be asked questions on your ability to be creative or think outside the box. It may not be stated in the job description, therefore understanding the requirements for the role, stated both in and not in job description is important.
  • Identify several strong examples from your past experience. They don’t have to be too complex; the key thing to get across is your role in the outcome.
  • Use the STAR method to structure your answers – Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This includes setting the scene, explaining how you dealt with the situation, placing particular emphasis on your role, and discussing the outcome.

Good luck with any upcoming interviews you may have, and remember however the questions are phrased, they all come down one - “Will you fit into this company and do the job better than any of the other people we are talking to?”. So know your strengths and make sure they’re expressed in your answers and examples! 

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