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How to prepare for the most common type of job interview

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The most common type of job interview is no longer the traditional one-on-one style interview. Today, employers are more interested in skills and company culture fit and so Behavioural or Situational, otherwise known as Competency Based Interviews, have become the go-to.

The idea behind Competency Based Interviews is that past performance is the best indicator of future behaviour. Interviewers ask a set of specific questions based on an employer’s requirement for a specific job role and you are expected to demonstrate your level of competency and suitability by giving examples from your past.

The best and most reliable way to answer these questions is by using the STAR Approach or STAR Method.  In doing this you will tell your story to persuade the interviewer you’ve got the right skills and experience for the job. This is a time to talk about yourself. Use “I” a lot.

By using this step-by-step method you will be able to answer each question in an effective way without forgetting anything important.

How to use the STAR Approach

Situation: Explain the situation by setting the context and be clear and informative with your information. Where were you working, how many people were on your team, who the client was, why it was important and so on.

Task: Explain the Task/Objective of the project. What were you trying to achieve? Why? Who else was involved and what specific aspects of it were you personally responsible for.

Action: Explain what YOU did and HOW. Describe the steps you took to complete your task; what were the barriers and how did you get around them; what negotiations you had; who else was involved or impacted; what innovations did you think of and what skills you drew on to achieve the task.

Result: Explain what the result was.  Were things better because of what you did; Any quantifiable improvements or gains; What did you accomplish and what did you learn? What feedback did you receive; What would you do differently next time; What did you learn from this.

What are the core behavioural competencies employers look for?

Although the skills required to land a job vary from role to role, there are some core competencies that apply across the board. These are: Adaptability, Resilience, Customer Focus, Communication, Initiative, Organisational Awareness, Problem Solving, Results Delivery, Teamwork and Planning & Organisation.

If you can prove you have experience and skills in all the above, you will impress most interviewers. To do this, familiarise yourself with behavioural competencies and prepare a few examples (using the STAR approach.) This way you’ll be covered for a multitude of questions – from “Tell me about a time you achieved a goal” to “Give me an example of when you had to work to a tight deadline.”  For a full list of possible questions download our Interview Handbook.

If you have an interview coming up think about your past experiences and how they relate to the job you are interviewing for. Prepare answers using the STAR approach and keep in mind the 10 core behavioural competencies. To impress further, see if the company you’re interviewing for has any Core Values or a Mission Statement and try and reflect those values in your interview too.

Need more job interview advice?

Download our Interview Handbook