Home: Competency Interviews

Competency Interviews - How To Do Better Than Your Competition And Land The Job

Competency based interviews are becoming more and more popular with interviewers worldwide, so you're right to want to prepare for them.

In the next few pages, you'll discover:

  • What competency based interviews are
  • How to prepare for them, and
  • The kind of competency questions you'll be asked

Soon you'll be feeling confident about your competency based interview and ready to deal with anything your interviewers throw at you.

What Are Competency Interviews?

Competency interviews are about finding out how competently you performed in work situations in the past. Interviewers realize that how you did perform in the past is a better prediction of how you will perform in the future, compared to asking you how you would perform in a given situation.

So instead of asking you: "How would you deal with a difficult customer?" they ask you: "Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult customer". The interviewers want to know what you did in that situation, why you did it and what the outcome was.

To decide what interview questions to ask, the interviewers think about the job role and what key competences are needed to do it effectively. They draw up questions designed to find out if you are indeed competent at this things.

Here's an example: Let's say the job requires someone who can work under pressure, in a busy office for example. The interviewers will come up with questions to find out how well you worked in pressurized situations before. They will be interested in how you felt, what actions you took and the results of those actions. They might even ask what you'd do differently next time.

What Do Interviewers Look ForIn Competency Interviews?

As well as looking for positive indicators that you are competent, interviewers also watch for negative indicators which will go against you. These include seeing challenge and change as a problem, failing to get help when appropriate, taking things personally and so on.

To obtain the most from their competency interview questions, interviewers look for the following key components in your answers (STAR).


Has the candidate explained the situation he/she was in and in which he/she took action?


Has the candidate explained what they did in response to the situation?


Has the candidate explained the outcome that resulted from their action?

If you've not given enough detail, the interviewers will usually follow-up with extra questions, such as:

  • What exactly did you do?
  • What was your specific role in this?
  • What challenges did you come across?
  • Why precisely did you do that?
  • Why exactly did you make that decision?
  • How did you approach that?
  • How did you feel?
  • Whose idea was that?
  • What exactly was the outcome?
  • What feedback did you receive?
  • What would you do differently next time?

How Can I Prepare For Competency Interviews?

To prepare for competency based interviews, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Study the job advertisement
  2. Make a list of the things you need to be good at in the job. These might include communication, decision-making, initiative, customer service, teamwork, creativity etc..
  3. Think of at least one example in the past when you've successfully done each of the things on your list
  4. Write about the example/s. For each, explain the situation, how you felt, what you did, why you did it, the outcome and anything you learned.
  5. Read each example back to yourself (or, even better, read it to someone else) and think of additional questions you might be asked about the situation. Often the interviewers want to know more than you think!

What Kind Of Competences Are Tested?

Here are some of the competences you may be asked to evidence in competency interviews, plus example questions:

We are adding more competency interview questions each week so revisit this page regularly for updates.

Top of Competency Interviews Page

Home | Site Map | Inside Secrets! | "How To.." Guides | Site Search | Resources
Build A Website Like This | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Testimonials | Partner Links