Career Advice

How to Answer Competency Based Interview Questions

Competency based interviews are becoming increasingly popular as a way to predict a candidate’s future performance. Essentially, a series of behavioural questions, the interviewer will ask you to describe a situation which demonstrates your abilities that will be integral to the role you’re interviewing for.

The Trick to Answering Competency Based Questions

Answers to competency based questions are very structured, so we recommend the STAR technique, describing:
  • the Situation
  • the Task required as a result
  • the Action you took
  • the Result of that action
It’s all very well having a technique for answering questions but we think you’d benefit from having a deeper understanding of what is required of you, along with examples of the questions themselves.

Key Competency Based Questions

Drawing on 30 plus years of recruitment experience, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of key competency questions, grouping them into five bite size areas - Individual, Managerial, Analytical, Interpersonal and Motivational - for easier digestion.

Individual Competencies

These refer to:
Your personal attributes; your decisiveness, tenacity, knowledge, independence, risk taking and personal integrity.
A typical question:
Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was challenged. How did you handle the situation?

Managerial Competencies

These refer to:
Your ability to take charge of other people; leadership, empowerment, strategic thinking, corporate sensitivity, project management and managerial control.
A typical question might be:
Tell me about a time you led a group to achieve an objective. 

Analytical Competencies

These refer to:
Your decision making abilities; innovation, analytical skills, problem solving, practical learning and attention to detail
A typical question might be:
Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem. How did you go about it? Was it successful?

Interpersonal Competencies

These refer to:
Social competence; many workplaces function on the basis of project teams and the more collaborative they are, the more likely they are to thrive.
A typical question might be:
Describe a situation where you got people to work together.

Motivational Competencies

These refer to:
The things that drive you; resilience, motivation, result orientation, initiative and quality focus.
A typical question might be:
When did you feel the greatest sense of achievement? Why? 


Remember, be yourself when answering competency questions; use real life examples and relate them to your experience, how you reacted or how it made you feel. These are not trick questions; they’re designed to create the best match between an individual and an organization. 
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