Competency-based interviews can provide employers with detailed insight into how a candidate might perform any given task and whether they have the background and skills you’re looking for.

In the Frame

Framing competency-based questions – relevant to a role or organization – will allow you to assess whether candidates measure up on any number of skills such as leadership, communication, decisiveness, delegation, risk taking, team work, etc.

What are the Indicators?

While employers will no doubt have a clear idea of the type of candidate they’re looking for, the process of scoring candidates by their answers to competency-based questions can prove an ultimate deciding factor.

For example, to a fairly straight forward question such as, “Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem,” you should be able to gauge on a scale of one to five whether a candidate has “no skills/experience” or has “excellent skills/experience” in the relevant area.

It is also possible to gauge a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses through their answers by assessing whether they demonstrate a willingness to learn, an ability to perform or if they show a negative approach toward a task.

Key Competency Questions

With more than 35 years of recruitment experience, we know the value of competency-based interviews and have worked out a list of key competency questions, grouping them into five bite-size areas, illustrating a wide range of skills.

Individual competencies 

These refer to a candidate’s: flexibility, decisiveness, tenacity, knowledge, independence, risk taking and personal integrity.

A typical question might be: Tell me about a time when your work or your idea was challenged.

Managerial competencies 

These refer to a candidate’s: 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 a candidate’s: 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.

Interpersonal competencies

These refer to a candidate’s: social competencies, leadership, and ability to work as part of a team.

A typical question might be: Describe a situation where you got people to work together.

Motivational competencies

These refer to a candidate’s: drive, resilience, energy, motivation, result orientation, initiative and quality focus.

A typical question might be: When did you work the hardest and feel the greatest sense of achievement?

When conducting a competency-based interview, employers should be looking for authentic answers where candidates are being themselves by providing real life examples which relate to their actual life and work experiences. Remember, these are not trick questions; they are designed to create the best match between an individual and an organization.

For more interviewing tips that will let you know the most about job candidates up front, check out five of the most insightful job interview questions.

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