A competency based interview isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact, you’ve probably been to one before without even knowing it! These interviews are designed to see if your skill set matches the skills needed for the job, and relies on the principle of past actions and experience being the best indicator of this. Normally the interviewers will have a set of questions each one focused on a specific skill required for the role.
What kind of questions will I be asked?
You are less likely to be asked informal questions such as ‘why do you want to work here?’ or ‘what can you bring to the company?’ or ‘if you were a kitchen appliance which one would you be and why?’.
The aims of the questions are actually really obvious, so it shouldn’t be difficult to see what hiring managers are looking for.
Describe a situation when you assumed the role of leader. Were there any challenges, and how did you address them? (leadership skills)
Tell us about a time when your communication skills helped diffuse a situation? (communication skills)
Describe a situation in which you were working as part of a team. How did you make a contribution? (teamwork)
The STAR Method
Despite the fact that competency based questions aim to get you talking about your past experience, a common complaint we have from hiring managers is that candidates don’t evidence their competencies with work based examples. You want your answers to fit their criteria as much as possible, and there’s one trusted method for ensuring this – the STAR method.
The STAR method helps you at answer interview questions systematically so that you don’t miss anything important.
SITUATION: Set the scene for your example by giving a brief description of the context. For example, if you’re talking about teamwork you will need to explain what team you were in, the team’s purpose, how many members, and any important information about the team dynamic.
TASK: This one is just about you and what your exact tasks were in the situation.
ACTION: This is what you did including going above and beyond your actual TASK. You should include a lot of detail and specifics, and for clarity it’s a good idea to start from the beginning and take your interviewer on the journey of how your actions evolved along with the project. You don’t need to talk about what other people did, but you should talk about yourself in relations to your teammates; how you motivated them, how you helped them, how you worked together.
RESULT: Explain the outcome to all your hard work. The best way to do this is to show measurable outcomes, such as finishing a project before the deadline, getting positive customer feedback, or saving the team from extra work. Also include what you learned and if you would do anything differently.
For this method to work you will need to do some pretty in depth research on yourself, but trust me it will be worth it. Go through the job description and pick out the core competencies, then think about examples from your career and apply the STAR method to create an answer to these core competencies. Don’t be afraid to take a little longer in the interview to answer these kind of questions, and be sure to let your interviewer know that you’re thinking about your answer instead of babbling to fill time while you think!