Competency based interviews

Career Advice
05 May 2014 | Career Advice | Guest Author

A competency based interview? What's that? Why do employers use them?"

Anton Morozov of Interview Bull offers tips on how to prepare for these types of interviews...

Competency based interviews are becoming increasingly common, they are becoming the standard interview method used to judge an applicants suitability to a role and company. Competency based interview questions are therefore most likely to be used in your graduate interviews as part of the recruitment process.

This style of questioning is designed to make the job application process as objective as possible, removing any conscious or subconscious bias on the interviewer's behalf by asking each candidate the same questions. The candidates can then be judged against the same standard, having all been subjected to the same probing questions. Since they are now so common, especially in large organisations and the public sector, it is definitely worth refining your technique.  

Competency based questions depend on the idea that past actions give a good and accurate indication of future behaviour. The interviewers goal is to obtain specific examples of when and how you demonstrated particular behaviours. Interview questions are carefully designed to probe specific skills and characteristics that are relevant to job success in the position you are applying for. Your responses can then be rated against those of other interviewees.

How on earth do I prepare for that then?"

To be properly prepared, you need to make sure that you understand the types of competencies that are likely to be explored in your interview.


  • Consult the job description or person specification if you have access to it/if it is detailed enough to list desired skills and qualities. 
  • Think about the requirements of the specific job you are interviewing for and the key competencies that a successful candidate would be expected to demonstrate.
  • Company websites often include a section on the values of their organisation and this can be a useful resource to guide you on what competencies may be explored at your interview.

If these competencies are provide
d then you have no excuses, make sure you clearly understand each one! (A definition usually accompanies each competency; it is imperative that you clearly base your answers and examples around the definition provided.)

There are often several elements to a particular competency, such as Leadership.  This competency is not just about taking charge and making decisions; it is also about how you handle the ideas of others, how you take other views into account; you would need to ensure that you include elements or quotes that demonstrate this. 

Make sure you research the company thoroughly and that you understand the products and services they provide, <span

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