Competency based interview questions- Citizen Recruitment

Competency based interview questions

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Competency based interview questions

Congratulations, you got a call for an interview! But the problem is, it’s a competency-based interview. So what’s the difference between a competency interview and in traditional interviews? Normal interviews, are free-flowing and more like a conversation. Competency based interview questions are very much scripted and often written by psychologists who know how to frame questions that will provide revealing answers and insights into your capabilities. The list of skills and competencies that will be tested will change depending on the post you’re applying for. Below you will find a spectrum of competency-based interview questions, ordered by competency. The list is by no means complete, but it will give you an idea of what you can expect to be asked. A comprehensive list of key competency questions, grouping them into different areas – Individual, Managerial, Analytical, Interpersonal and Motivational – for easier digestion. These five major categories have sub categories, namely, adaptability, compliance, communication, conflict management, creativity and innovation, decisiveness, delegation, External awareness, flexibility, independence influencing, integrity, leveraging diversity, organisational awareness, risk taking and teamwork. Now these five groups will be discussed one by one

Individual Competencies
These competencies are someone’s personal attributes, like decisiveness, tenacity, knowledge, independence, risk taking and personal integrity. A typical question from this category may be:
·         Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was challenged.

Managerial Competencies
These competencies are someone’s ability to take charge of other people; leadership, empowerment, strategic thinking, corporate sensitivity, project management and managerial control. A typical question from this category may be:

·         Tell me about a time you led a group to achieve an objective.

Analytical Competencies
These competencies are someone’s decision-making abilities; innovation, analytical skills, problem-solving, practical learning and attention to details. A typical question from this category may be:
·         Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem.

Interpersonal Competencies
These competencies are someone’s Social competencies. Many workplaces function on the basis of project teams and the more collaborative they are, the more likely they are to thrive. A typical question from this category may be:

·         Describe a situation where you got people to work together.

Motivational competencies

These competencies are your resilience, motivation, result orientation, initiative and quality focus. A typical question from this category may be:

·         When did you work harder and feel the greatest sense of achievement?

How to answer competency Questions?
Now you know the format and know what sort of questions you’ll be asked, the preparation is straightforward. First, you need to research all the likely questions around the competencies related to the job you are applying for.

Second, you’ll need to sift through your employment and personal history to find examples that show you’ve got the relevant skills and abilities.
And third, you need to practice the STAR technique

  • The Situation
  • The Task required as a result
  • The Action you took
  • The Result of that action

An answer structured in these four components shows how you demonstrated a skill in a particular context, so the potential employer can imagine how you might operate in their workplace.

It’s all very well having a technique for answering questions, but you’d benefit from having a deeper understanding of what is required of you, along with examples of the questions themselves.

Judging criteria

Before the interview, the employer will have determined which type of answers would score positive points and which types of answers would count against the candidates. Interview Skills Consulting, ISC provides the following examples for the question, “Describe a time when you had to deal with pressure”:

·         Positive

Demonstrates a positive approach towards the problem
Considers the wider need of the situation

·         Negative

Perceives challenges as problems
Attempts unsuccessfully to deal with the situation alone


Remember, be yourself when answering competency questions; use real life examples and relate them to your experience, how you reacted or how it made you feel. These are not trick questions, they’re designed to create the best match between an individual and an organisation. A little bit of preparation and you’ll quickly realise that competency based interviews represent an unprecedented opportunity to describe some of your finer moments to a captive audience. Even if you haven’t been told you’ve got a competency interview, make sure you clarify what kind of interview you’re being invited to. There’s a world of difference between competency and other kinds of interviews and you need to know what you’ve got to prepare for.


Here are some examples of the categories which cannot be mentioned above,

Competency – Adaptability

Adjusts to changing environments whilst maintaining effectiveness
·         Which change of job did you find the most difficult to make?

Competency – Compliance

Conforms to company policies and procedures
·         Tell us about a time when you went against company policy? Why did you do it and how did you handle it?

Competency – Conflict management

Encourages creative tension and differences of opinions. Anticipates and takes steps to prevent  counter-productive confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner.

·         Tell us about a time when you felt that conflict or differences were a positive driving force in your organisation. How did you handle the conflict to optimise its benefit?

Competency – Creativity and Innovation

Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.

·         Tell us about a project or a situation where you felt that the conventional approach would not be suitable. How did you manage a new approach? Which challenges did you face and how did you address them?

Interview Competency – Decisiveness 

Makes well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; perceives the impact and implications of decisions.

·         What big decision did you make recently? How did you go about it?
·         How did you reach the decision that you wanted to change job?

Competency – Integrity

Ability to maintain job-related, social, organisational and ethical norms.
·         When have you had to lie to achieve your aims? Why did you do so? How do you feel you could have achieved the same aim in a different way?

Interview Competency – Leadership

Acts as a role model. Anticipates and plans for change. Communicates a vision to a team.

·         Tell us about a situation where you had to get a team to improve its performance. What were the problems and how did you address them?
·         Describe a change where you had to drive a team through change. How did you achieve this?

Tom Brunt

You're Probably Starting Negotiations Wrong—and 11 Other Things to Know Now -1

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