2. • What are competencies?
Competence = Skills + Ability + Motivation
3. • What are skills?
Skills are behaviours or competencies that people can learn. Skills allow
people to perform specific actions and execute desired results.
• Hard skills: technical knowledge you can gain through specific
training, life experience or education.
Examples: Fluency in a specific language Machine operation
Coding Carpentry Software applications
• Soft skills: interpersonal or personality-focused traits.
Examples: Leadership Organisation Time management
Conflict resolution Communication Public speaking Empathy
4. • What are abilities?
Capacity to perform a skill. You can develop and improve some abilities
through training or exercises, while others are inalterable or come
naturally to you.
Some examples are:
Hearing Lifting heavy objects Seeing
Working on a team Visual learning Remembering
5. • What is a Competency-Based Interview?
Competency-based interviews are also known as behavioural,
situational or structured interviews. They are designed to get
candidates to provide real-life examples as the basis of their reply and
are extremely common in many hiring processes.
6. • How are Competency-Based Interview
Questions Typically Phrased?
Competency based interview questions can be phrased in a number of
ways however they almost always start with something like:
• Tell me about a time when…
• Describe a situation when…
• Talk me through a situation when…
7. • How should you answer competency-based
It is vital you provide specific examples and concrete evidence of where you
have previously matched the assessable competency. To do this, make sure
you structure your answer using the following STAR TECHNIQUE:
SITUATION – Describe the SITUATION you were in.
TASK – Describe the TASK that needed to be done.
ACTION – Describe what ACTION you took and what action others took.
RESULT – Detail the RESULT of the task following your actions.
9. COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Example question 1. When have you taken responsibility for a difficult task at work?
SITUATION – During an office meeting, my supervisor asked for a volunteer to work over the
forthcoming weekend. One of our customer service agents had gone off sick unexpectedly and he
needed someone to take on their duties at short notice.
TASK – My supervisor needed someone to quickly learn the responsibilities of the person who had
gone off sick. Therefore, it was a difficult task but I felt I had a responsibility to help the company in
its hour of need.
ACTION – I started out by cancelling my plans for the weekend and then focused on learning the
role of my colleague so I could perform the job to the best of my ability. I decided to undertake an
online course during working hours to learn as much about the role as possible. I also asked my
supervisor a number of specific questions to make sure I knew exactly what I was supposed to be
doing, and also what was expected of me.
RESULT – The end results was, I am pleased to say, a success. I worked for the entire weekend in the
customer service role and the feedback we received from our customers was outstanding.
10. COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
(PROBLEM SOLVING + CONFLICT RESOLUTION)
Example question 2. Describe a time when you solved a difficult problem at work?
SITUATION – Whilst at work, I noticed two work colleagues had not been getting on for some time now. So,
although the situation hadn’t yet impacted on the performance of the company, I was concerned things could
escalate unless someone stepped in to resolve the problem.
TASK – I felt someone needed to get hold of the situation with a view to resolving it amicably and as quickly as
possible. It was my task to get the two people together, find out what the issue was with a view to sorting the
situation out so we could all move forward as a team.
ACTION – I initially sat down in private with each person individually to ask them what was going on. So, I
managed to gather some useful information which led me to believe the problem was all down to a simple
miscommunication. It transpired that one of them felt the other person had done been doing their job
properly, which resulted in the other person having an increased workload. Therefore, I got them both
together in a private room and asked them to talk sensibly about it whilst I facilitated the discussion. Although
it was uncomfortable at times, they both were relieved to get the situation resolved.
RESULT – The end result was that both work colleagues cleared the air, shook hands and agreed to talk about
things openly in the future, if a similar situation arose again.
11. COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Example question 3. When did you make a difficult decision within a team that most people were against?
SITUATION – Whilst sat at my desk one day, the fire alarm started sounding. So, I immediately got up from my
desk to make my way out of the building, but I noticed the other members of the team were ignoring the fire
alarm. We were situated on the 5th floor of the office block, and it was important we left quickly.
TASK – I felt it was my responsibility to force people to leave the office and make their way out safely using the
fire escape. Therefore, I wasn’t going to ignore company policy and, potentially, put other people’s lives at risk.
ACTION – I shouted out loud that the fire alarm was sounding and that we all had to leave immediately. A
member of the team told me to “sit back down” because the fire alarm was always going off and it was
probably a false alarm anyway. So, I reminded them all that we could not use the lifts in the event of a fire
alarm and that it was a long way down five flights of stairs. Eventually, they all got up from their chairs, and we
all made our way out safely.
RESULT – As it transpired, there was actually a fire in the basement of the building and the fire department
quickly put it out once they arrived. So, I reminded everyone of their responsibilities to follow company policy
once we got back up to our office. Therefore, I would never be afraid to make unpopular decisions whenever
the need arises.
12. COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
(OPENNESS TO CHANGE)
Example question 4. Can you give an example of when you have supported change within an organization?
SITUATION – In my previous job, a new and inexperienced manager joined the team. It was quite refreshing to
have someone new join the team. She had different and creative ideas she wanted to try out which she
believed would help the company to grow. Therefore, unfortunately, the vast majority of people within the
team were opposed to the proposed changes and they made their feelings clear to the new manager.
TASK – I felt differently. I believe change is positive within any organisation and there is no harm in trying new
and different ways of working. So on that basis, I supported my manager and decided I would speak to those
against the change individually, to try and motivate them to see the potential benefits.
ACTION – I took my time to speak to everyone who was against the change and shared with my them my own
view and opinion of the proposals. Eventually, most of the team began to turn their views and they each
expressed a desire to embrace the change, albeit reluctantly. Therefore, we all started working with the new
changes our manager had made, and I personally embraced them positively and with a motivated attitude.
RESULT – To be honest, the results were staggering. Most of the changes had a positive impact on the business
and you could sense an upbeat and positive mood within the office. The changes were accepted and we all
now look forward to, and embrace change, whenever it comes along.
13. • What Do Competency-Based Interview
Questions Typically Assess?
• Problem solving
• Commitment to development
• Decision making
• Openness to change
• Commercial awareness
• Customer service
• Conflict resolution
• Career motivation
• Trustworthiness & Ethics
• Results driven
• Safety conscious
14. Time: 10 – minute job interview
1 Completeness of answers: poorly answered / partially answered / completely
2 Structure: (organization): disorganized / partially / fully organized answers
3 Use of language basic structures and vocabulary / acasional complex
structures and vocubulary / usually complex structures and vocabulary
4 Pronunciation unintelligible / ocasional errors / completely intelligible
5 Body language lack of confidence / partial confidence / fully confident