Competency Based Interviews

Evaluating your competency

The answers from competency based interviews are matched against pre-decided criteria. Increasing number of companies are now using competency based interviews as part of their selection process.

What are the typical competencies?

There are many skills and competencies that can be tested with competency based interviewing, this depends on the role you’re applying for. A competency is a specific quality, knowledge, skill or behaviour that you should have to be successful in a particular job or role.  In demonstrating your competencies you will be showing the skills and the background knowledge necessary for you to perform a particular task effectively, together with the motivation or drive to make things happen.

Typical competencies could be:

  • Adaptability
  • Compliance
  • Communication
  • Conflict management
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Decisiveness
  • Delegation
  • External awareness
  • Flexibility
  • Independence
  • Influencing
  • Integrity
  • Leadership
  • Leveraging diversity
  • Organisational awareness
  • Resilience and Tenacity
  • Risk taking
  • Sensitivity to others
  • Team work

What are my competencies?

The interviewer(s) will want to know how you have handled specific tasks or situations in the past. Therefore focus on specific examples that present your achievements in a positive light.

  • Consider your role in the situation
  • Were there any potential barriers or pitfalls?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • Is there anything that you have learned?
  • What was the end result?

Using the ‘STAR’ approach to structure your examples

S – Situation

T – Task

A – Action

R – Result

Situation / Task

Describe the situation that you were confronted with or the task that needed to be accomplished.


What actions did you take? This is the most crucial part of the star approach, use this to highlight your skills, personal experience and what makes you different from others. Demonstrate with examples what you did, steps you took and how you handled the situation. Remember this needs to tell a story about you and not the rest of the team.


Explain what the end result was. What did you accomplish? What was the positive outcome to the project, team members, business area and what you learnt. This helps you make the answers personal and enables you to highlight further skills.

Preparing for a competency based interview

Preparation is the key to performing well at any interview. Below are some tips on interview preparation.

  • Clearly define the key competencies required for the role
  • Prepare three to four examples demonstrating each competency from your past career history
  • Learn to narrate your examples using the STAR approach

 Examples of Competency based Interview Questions

  • Tell us about the biggest change that you have had to deal with. How did you cope with it?
  • Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation?
  • Describe a situation when you had to communicate a message to someone, knowing that you were right and they were wrong and reluctant to accept your point of view.
  • Tell us about a time when you were asked to summarise complex points.
  • Tell us about a situation where conflict led to a negative outcome. How did you handle the situation and what did you learn from it?
  • Tell us about the risks that you have taken in your professional or personal life? How did you go about making your decision?
  • Give us an example where you worked in a dysfunctional team. Why was it dysfunctional and how did you attempt to change things?
  • Give us an example of a situation where you knew that a project or task would place you under great pressure. How did you plan your approach and remain motivated?
  • Tell us about a time when you included someone in your team or a project because you felt they would bring something different to the team