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Competency Based Interviews

Competency Based Interviews

Posted on 1 July 2020 by Claire Summerfield

Is your interview style relaxed? More of a conversation with a few random questions thrown in?

Adding a few competency based questions into the mix can take your interview processes to the next level and increase the likelihood of securing your next superstar!

This style of questioning is designed to encourage candidates to talk about a situation where they faced a difficult or challenging problem and how they approached solving that problem.

When tailored towards the competencies required for a particular role, they can be a great tool to uncover personality traits and qualities and to assess how situations have been handled/reacted to in the past. To be effective the questions you ask need to be closely related to the situations and problems that are likely to be encountered within the role.

The list of skills and competencies are endless and will need to be defined for the role you are recruiting for, but common ones are:

  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Conflict Management
  • Delegation
  • Influencing
  • Leadership
  • Creativity and Innovation

This style of interview is well structured, and you’ll need to prepare questions in advance that will ask the applicant about a hypothetical situation or a previous challenge they’ve encountered. Questions will typically be phrased along the lines of:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Talk me through a situation when…
  • Describe a situation when…

You’ll ask the same questions to each applicant that you interview for the position and you’ll determine before the interview what type of answers would score positively and which would count against the candidate. What is a great answer and what response would be a red flag? These results/scores will then support your decision-making process and help you decide who to progress with.

A universally recognised communication technique that many candidates will use to answer competency-based questions is the ‘STAR’ approach. This technique helps candidates to answer questions in a structured manner…making it far easier for you to score their responses!

Situation – Task – Action – Result

Competency based questions can be a fantastic tool to utilise alongside your existing interview questions and processes, giving a greater insight into the applicants and really drilling down into their style and personality. It is a great idea to let candidates know beforehand the format of the interview to enable them to prepare effectively and to really understand the competencies that underpin the job.

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