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How to answer competency-based interview questions

How to answer competency-based interview questions

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Some job candidates dread competency-based interview questions but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of seeing this as something to worry about, remember that these questions provide you with a way of talking about your strengths and stand out qualities. The employer uses them to obtain examples of your skills in real-life situations so make the most of the opportunity.

A good way of dealing with these types of questions is to go through a few scenarios in your head in advance. You can do this by looking at examples of questions along with suitable answers. You should then apply this to your own employment history.

How to answer competency-based interview questions CMD Recruitment

Examples of competency-based interview questions

Different employers will have their favourite questions to ask and will be looking for a specific type of answer. By referring to examples like the ones below and preparing quality answers, you can remain one step ahead of the interviewer:

“Tell me about a scenario where you worked as part of a team to achieve a goal.”

When replying, make sure to stay on track and not wander off-topic. Talk about how you worked as part of a team, planning and cooperating with your colleagues. Mention your great communication skills and how you managed to resolve problems. You must come across as someone who is a good negotiator who acts with tact and diplomacy. Detail the steps that you took to achieve the goal and the difference that the result made to the company.

Think back and tell me about how you worked to solve a problem and what you might do differently if the same thing happened today.”

Here you should show that you can solve problems proactively, analysing the situation clearly and learning from it. Don’t get stuck on reiterating how well you did – this question is looking for you to show not only how you dealt with the situation but how you learnt from your experience, using it as a way of improving going forward. Show the interviewer that you are always thinking one step ahead, looking for new and innovative ways of doing things.

“What’s your greatest achievement?”

This is your chance to talk about what motivates you and your ambitions. Use this as an introduction to illustrate the quality of your communication skills, leadership ability, how you can work solo or as a part of a team and how adept you are when it comes to being creative. The answer doesn’t have to be solely related to your working life. Maybe you have achieved something amazing in your personal life, such as raising money to help someone who was sick or obtaining a degree as a mature student whilst working full-time. Don’t be shy about illustrating your strengths and outstanding qualities.

“Give an example of how you cope with change at work in a positive way.”

Employers are always looking to add to their team those who react well to change and those who see it as good rather than something to be worried about. Here you can show how you excelled when it came to positivity, being adaptable, flexible and welcoming change. You need to illustrate how you coped with the changing environment, embracing the new and helping others to maintain their morale. If the change provided you with the opportunity to learn new skills, then say so. Show how you made dealing with the change part of a learning process, adapting quickly and moving forward positively.

“Describe an incident that caused conflict within a team and how you dealt with it.”

The interviewer is seeking to find out more about your behaviour and conflict resolution skills. They are looking for such things as you showing that you have diverse opinions, are diplomatic, have emotional intelligence and can deal with conflict in a way that achieves a positive outcome. Don’t be afraid of hiding your personality. Do you prefer to back away from conflict or do you face it head-on, finding an answer and calming people down? A good way of beginning is to be positive, showing that you take on board the immediate difficulty of the situation and how you used your diplomacy and tactfulness to achieve resolution. It’s good to show the potential employer that you value a good relationship between team members and that you are prepared to go the extra mile to keep things harmonious.

Plan and plan ahead

How to answer competency-based interview questions CMD Recruitment

The secret to answering these competency-based questions is forethought and pre-planning. You will have no idea what questions you will be asked at the interview, but by practising these types of answers, you will be forearmed and ready to deal with whatever comes your way.

Many job applicants find it helpful to use the STAR method when formulating their answers:

  • S – describe the situation.
  • T – what task did you need to accomplish?
  • A – what action did you take?
  • R – what was the result?

Whatever your response, make it your aim to impress the interviewer with your skills and experience. Remember, they don’t know you but you do.  Make the most of your time at the interview to convey your personality, showing what an impressive package you can bring to the table. By considering your competencies in advance, you will be prepared and able to give the interviewer they are looking for. Don’t let anything throw you off balance, such as questions being worded in a different way or entirely different queries being aimed at you. All you have to do is arm yourself with the key elements – your strengths and outstanding skills – and you will be ready to answer anything. Also, remember not to rush when giving your answer. Nerves can cause this to happen so take a deep breath before answering and even tick off the ‘STAR’ elements of each answer in your head.

Talk to us

By dealing positively with these competency-based interview questions, you are well on the way to finding your perfect job. If you would like advice on how to approach a role that you have seen advertised, or simply want a general chat with one of our team members, don’t hold back. Contact the consultants at CMD who are always happy to help or read some of our insightful blogs. We also have a great FAQ section for candidates.