Competency-Based Interviewing Skills Training

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Strengthening Competency-Based Interviewing Skills

Get tips on how to succeed in competency-based interviews

Competency-based interviewing is one of the best ways to test candidates. In today’s job market, employers are looking for more than a good resume. They want employees who have the skills and qualities necessary to excel in the role. 

Competency-based interviews check a candidate’s ability to perform specific tasks. This helps to show their behaviors and attitudes. It also focuses on the candidate’s past experiences. Also, their behaviors in predicting future job performance. 

Benefits of competency-based interviewing 

This type of interviewing assesses a candidate’s ability to perform the job. It focuses on specific behaviors and past experiences. It provides a more reliable indicator of future job performance.

Competency-based interviewing is a structured approach that ensures consistency in the assessment process. They ask all candidates the same questions. This reduces the risk of bias or favoritism.

Competency-based interviewing is a fair way of assessing candidates. It focuses on the skills and abilities required for the job. It is not influenced by personal characteristics such as race, gender, or age.

This type of interviewing reduces the need for lengthy interviews. It enables employers to make decisions as soon as possible.

Steps to successful competency-based interviews

The first step is to identify the competencies required for the job. Do this by analyzing the job description and the job requirements. Examples of competencies are teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.

Then, the interviewer needs to develop interview questions. These help in evaluating the candidate’s skill in each of the competencies. These questions should be open-ended and focused on behavior.

During the competency-based interview, the interviewer will ask questions. These questions relate to the competencies identified in step one. Check the candidate’s responses based on how well they show the required competencies.

Afterward, score each response given by the candidate. Base it on how well they show the required competency. The scoring system should be impartial and consistent across all candidates.

Finally, after interviewing and scoring you can hire. Base the hiring decision on the candidate’s competency score. Also on how well they meet the job requirements.

Using the STAR method in competency-based interviews

You can effectively express key points with the STAR (situation, task, action, and outcome) method to frame your responses. Determine the following for each response you give:


Detail the circumstance you were in or the task that needed to be done. In order for the interviewer to grasp the rest of your response, you must first provide a clear explanation of the circumstance you were in. Be clear and concentrate on the information that is important to your experience and the interview question you are responding to.


This is the section of your response where you explain to the interviewer how you fit in.  This is sometimes mistaken for the “action” part of the response. Nevertheless, don’t initially get into what you really accomplished. In this section detail the facts of what your duties in that given scenario were, as well as any goals that were established for you.


It’s time to clarify what you did after giving the interviewer a feel of your function. What actions did you take to accomplish that objective or resolve that issue?

You have the opportunity to truly highlight your contribution at this point, so be precise. Make sure you dig deeper and provide sufficient details on what you did. Did you collaborate with a specific team? utilize a specific piece of software? Make a thorough plan. Your interviewer is interested in learning about these items.


Discuss the outcomes of the action you performed in the final section of your response. Keep in mind that interviewers are interested in more than just what you did. They would like to learn why it was important. Thus, be sure to highlight any achievements you achieved and, if possible, quantify them. Numbers always have an influence.

You can also include any long-term impacts of your actions; for example, did your team or you come up with a new method of working together? Has the agreement with your client been upheld? Did people give your presentation positive feedback?

Make sure the results are positive.

Key competency skills in interviews

Effective communication is a key competency in most job roles. During an interview, show your communication skills. Answer questions without too much jargon. Use specific examples to illustrate your communication skills. For example, situations where you have resolved conflicts or communicated with a team.

Collaboration and teamwork are essential competencies in many roles. Be prepared to give examples of how you have worked well in a team. Describe your role in the team and how you contributed to achieving the team’s goals.

Problem-solving as employers seek candidates who can solve complex problems. Use examples that show your ability to identify issues and develop creative solutions. Explain your thought process and the steps you took to solve the problem.

Employers want candidates who can adapt to new situations and environments. Show your adaptability by discussing situations where you have had to learn fast. Even adapt to new technologies or work in a new environment.

Leadership is a critical competency skill for many management roles. Give examples of situations where you have demonstrated leadership skills. This can be coaching team members, motivating others, or leading a project.

Employers value candidates who can take the initiative and work without supervision. You could mention how you identified and resolved a problem before it became a major issue. 

Employers seek candidates who can manage their time and rank tasks. Examples are completing projects on time, prioritizing tasks, or managing competing deadlines.

Tips to excel in a competency interview

Research the company and the role. Make sure you have a good understanding of the company. Learn its values, and the requirements of the role you are interviewing for. This will help you tailor your answers. They can show how your skills and experience align with the company’s needs. 

Prepare well-thought-out examples. Think about the skills and competencies that the interviewer will assess. These examples could be how you have shown skills and competencies in the past. Use the STAR method to structure your answers. Make sure you provide specific details and results.

Be concise and to the point as it demonstrates your skills and experience. Keep your answers focused and avoid rambling.

Confidence is key in any interview, and competency-based interviews are no exception. Be confident in your abilities. Use your examples to show your competence and expertise.

Ask questions at the end of the interview. Be sure to ask questions about the role and the company. This shows your interest and level of engagement. It can also provide a chance for you to prove your knowledge and understanding of the company.

Focus on your achievements and accomplishments. Be prepared to talk about specific projects or initiatives you have worked on. Also, mention the results you achieved.

Must have competency-based soft skills 

Soft skills are personal attributes and interpersonal skills. They enable you to communicate, work well with others, and manage emotions. Soft skills are becoming important in today’s workplace.

Besides, soft skills are not specific to any one job or industry. They are transferable across different roles. You can apply them in a wide variety of settings. Employers are looking for candidates who can adapt to new situations. This shows that you can work in different environments.

Soft skills are essential for teamwork and collaboration which many jobs today need. Soft skills like communication, empathy, and conflict resolution build strong relationships with colleagues. Employers may ask questions that assess your ability to work well with others. 

Soft skills like emotional intelligence and problem-solving are essential for effective leadership. Employers may look for evidence of a candidate’s leadership potential. Hence, soft skills can be a key indicator of this potential.

Soft skills are important for customer service. In many industries, customer service is a critical aspect of the job. Soft skills like empathy and communication are essential for providing high-quality customer service. They also resolve customer issues.

Best practices to communicate in written and oral interviews

Communication is a crucial ability for any profession. But it’s especially important for jobs that include competency-based interviews.

Here are some recommendations to assist you in doing that.

Use the STAR method

This is a straightforward framework for organizing your responses to competency-based questions. The STAR approach should all be specified. In this manner, as opposed to making generalizations or imprecise remarks, you may demonstrate your skills and abilities using specific examples.

Be precise and straightforward
You should strive to communicate in a straightforward manner. Whether you are writing a cover letter, a resume, or an email, chatting on the phone, in a video call, or in person. This entails speaking in a simple and plain manner. Stay away from jargon, slang, and filler words, and speak briefly. Also, you should proofread your written documents before sending them. Verify your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When communicating verbally, you should practice your responses aloud. You could pause, use tone, and refrain from rambling or repeating yourself.
Provide examples and comments
Using feedback from others to sharpen your communication skills is one approach to do so. You can enjoy the advice and opinions of someone you trust. Ask them for critical feedback, such as a coach, mentor, or friend. You can also examine what makes other people’s communication engaging and effective. Do this by using instances of excellent communication from successful candidates. Then, you can use their methods and approaches in your own communication.
Avoid the usual pitfalls
There are some errors you should avoid making in a competency-based interview. This will increase your chances of success. Don’t make vague statements without supporting facts. It’s crucial to present detailed and pertinent details. These highlight your abilities and accomplishments. 
Also, don’t place blame or offer an explanation. Yet, concentrate on how you overcome obstacles and learn from problems. When giving your responses, strive for a balance between clarity and succinctness. Adapt your length and pace in response to the interviewer’s indications. 
Last but not least, without bragging or inflating your abilities or accomplishments. Be assured and honest about your strengths and flaws.
Common competency-based interview questions
  1. Tell me about a time when you had to solve a complex problem at work. What was the problem, and how did you go about solving it?
  2. Can you give an example of a situation where you had to work with a difficult team member? How did you handle the situation, and what was the outcome?
  3. Describe a project or task you led. What was the goal, and how did you approach it? What was the outcome, and what did you learn from the experience?
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a new situation or work with limited resources. How did you adjust, and what was the result?
  5. Describe a time when you had to make a tough decision with limited information. What process did you use to make the decision, and what was the outcome?
  6. Give an example of a time when you had to work under pressure to meet a deadline. How did you manage your time, and what was the result?
  7. Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with a team to achieve a goal. How did you approach the collaboration, and what was the outcome?
  8. Describe a time when you had to identify and solve a problem before it became a major issue. How did you go about identifying the problem, and what steps did you take to solve it?
  9. Give an example of a time when you had to learn a new skill to complete a task. How did you go about learning the skill, and what was the outcome?

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