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Free Articles: Competency Interview Questions Made Easy

Competency Interview Questions Made Easy

By Annette Lewis

Competency based interview questions are used in an effort to make the interview process as standard and as fair as possible. It is a technique which is being used increasingly in large organizations where many managers may be interviewing for the same type of position such as in Call Centres or Banking back offices. This method of interviewing is also called Structured Interviewing and uses Behavioural Interview techniques to assess how a candidates past performance in work related situations can be used as a predictor of future performance. Studies have shown this technique to be about 5 times more accurate than traditional interview questions.

The word competency is widely used in business environments and refers to the skills that are necessary to achieve a good performance level in the job. Every job will have a set of key competencies, some of which are essential and others desired and all are required to do the job properly. In preparation the experienced interviewer will draw up a list of 3-4 questions relating to each competency directed towards discovering if you have those necessary skills for the job.

The style of the interview questions could be a combination of behavioural, open or probing and will take the form of:

• Tell me about a time when
• Describe a situation
• What would you do if

When you give your answer the interviewer will probe deeper and ask about the detail such as:

• How exactly did you do that?
• Tell me exactly what steps you took to resolve that
• What was the basis for that decision?

By investigating further the interviewer is trying to discover more about your skills as well as looking for clues which may suggest that you are exaggerating your part in the process or have created a complete fabrication.

When answering competency based interview questions we suggest that you choose answers based on real experiences that you have had and be ready to give details. Your response needs to be relevant and sufficiently detailed. Be specific and tell a story. A technique to use when answering behavioural questions is what I call iPAR:

I = Talk about the part you played in IDENTIFYING or noticing the problem
P = Describe the PROBLEM, situation or task
A = Talk about the ACTION you took
R = Describe the successful RESULT by using figures and data to illustrate the benefit to the company.

And always use “I” rather than “we”.

Prepare answers which relate to all the achievements on your resume or CV as you will surely be asked questions referring to these. You will find that you should have a sufficient stock of answers that will help you answer any competency based interview question irrespective of the style used.

About the Author:

2006© Annette Lewis is an accredited interviewer, job coach and career consultant. She provides free advice and help for job interview candidates at More free tips and advice on Competency Based Interviews are available from

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