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Interview Preparation: Competency Based Interview Questions

Interviewer shaking candidates hand.

It’s difficult to predict what questions an interviewer will ask, but some standard job interview questions come up again and again. A competency-based interview allows the interviewer to see how you would behave in certain situations in the workplace and is the preferred interview type of employers.

When preparing for a competency based interview think about past experiences that relate to your potential new job. Here are a selection of competency based interview questions you should prepare to succeed in your job interview:

Interview questions assessing Adaptability

Adaptability is ability to to adapt to changing situations. These interview questions will give the interviewer an insight into your ability to think on your feet and see if you can effectively manage the changing needs of the company.

Example Questions:
Q 1. Tell me about a time when you felt it was particularly important that you adapted your behaviour to suit the situation.
• What was effective about the way you adapted your
• What did you learn from adapting your behaviour?
• How were you able to take into account any
differences in culture or religion of those involved?
Q2. Give me an example of a time when you had to accept a change initiative which came from higher up in the organisation:
• How did you feel about adapting to the initiative?
• What did you do to ensure the initiative was
• How successful did you feel the initiative was?
Q3.Describe a time when you had to deal with an ambiguous situation at work:
• What did you find difficult to deal with about the
• How did this affect your performance?
• What would you do differently in future?

Interview questions assessing Communication

Communication is the transfer of information from one person to another. Employees ability to communicate effectively is essential to companies because it allows companies to be productive and operate effectively. Therefore during a companies based interview, interviewers will try to establish your ability to communicate.

Example Questions:
Q1.Tell me about a time when you had to have a conversation with a co-worker or customer with whom you had a language barrier?
• How did you ensure that you were being
• How did you feel about the process?
Q2.Give me an example of how you keep others informed of issues, recurring problems or suggestions for improvement.
• Are you more likely to speak to a co-worker/boss?
• How do you share your ideas?
• How do you tailor your communication to who
you’re speaking to?
Q3.Describe a talk or presentation that you recently gave.
• How did you tailor it to suit the audience?
• How did the audience react?

Interview questions assessing Customer Focus

Customer Focus is very important for a business as it increases sales and boosts probability. Interviewers may want to see your ability to understand a client’s needs in the context of your expertise.

Example questions:
Q1.Tell me about an occasion when you had to work hard to meet the needs of a customer.
• What steps did you take?
• What was the outcome?
Q2.Tell me about a time when a customer or co-worker made unreasonable demands on you.
• What did you do?
• How were the demands unreasonable?
• What was the outcome?
• How did it make you feel?
Q3.Describe a situation during which you had to deal with an angry customer or coworker.
• Why were they angry?
• What did you do?
• How did you feel about it?

Interview questions assessing Initiative

Seeing Initiative is important to companies as it can show that you can proactively identify ways to contribute to the company’s mission, values and goals.

Example Questions:
Q1.Describe a situation when you recognised a potential problem as an opportunity.
• What did you do & what was the result?
• What, if anything, would you have done differently?
Tell me about a project you initiated.
• What did you do & why?
• What was the outcome?
• Were you happy with the result?
Organisational Awareness
Q2.Describe a situation in which you identified a controversial issue within your organisation.
• How did you handle the situation?

Interview questions assessing Planning & Organising

This competency analyses your ability to plan and manage activities and projects.

Example Questions:
Q1.Give me an example of when you had to work to a tight deadline.
• How did you monitor progress?
• What problems did you encounter?
• Would you have done anything differently?
Q2.Describe a time when you had to plan a project.
• How did you organise it?
• What contingencies did you have?
• What was successful/unsuccessful?
• What would you do differently next time?

Interview questions assessing Problem Solving

Problem Solving is the ability to analysis and process information to ensure you produce a valid decision.

Example Questions:
Q1.Tell me about a time when you solved a difficult problem.
• How did you identify the problem?
• How did you go about gathering the necessary
• How did you identify the best solution?
Q2.Describe a situation in which you recognised a problem & devised a solution to it.
• Explain the nature of the problem, the solution you devised & the most difficult obstacle you encountered when solving the issue.
• What did you do to ensure the successful
implementation of the solution?

Interview questions assessing Resilience

This shows that wither or not you can work productively in a pressured environment

Example Questions:
Q1.Describe a situation where you were working under a lot of pressure.
• What was the reason?
• How did you resolve it?
• What did you learn & what would you do different
next time?

Q2.Tell me about a time when you were given unfair feedback
• Why was it unfair?
• How did you handle it?
• What steps did you take to reboost your confidence?
• What did you learn from it?

Interview questions assessing Results Delivery

This gives an interviewer an insight itno what you have achieved not just what you have done.

Example Questions:
Q1.Tell me about a time you achieved a goal.
• How did you approach & achieve it?
• What were the barriers?

Q2.Tell me about a time you improved the way things were done on the job.
• How did you identify what needed to be changed?
• Who else was involved?
• What was the result of the change?

Q3. Describe something you have done to improve the performance of your team.
• What was your goal?
• What behaviours needed to change?
• What tools or methods did you use?

Interview questions assessing Teamwork

Organisations are much more likely to perform well when their people work effectively as a team. Therefore Employers are always looking for people that work well in a team.

Q1.Give me an example of a time when you had to be particularly supportive to others.
• How did you identify what type of support was
• To what extent did you feel you understood their
feelings & concerns?
• What factors did you consider when deciding how
to support them?

Q2. Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to work more effectively in a team.
• How did you approach this?
• What was the outcome?
• What did you do to build team spirit?

Being prepared is a vital to succeeding at any job interview. Familiarise yourself with these questions and prepare some STAR examples for each, or those you think are most relevant to your particular job interview.

In your interview try and weave your examples into answers naturally, and show that you’ve done your preparation on the company values and proposition.

To summarise do your homework, practice these questions incorporating real examples into each of your answers and if you have any concerns get in touch with your recruiter who’ll happily advise.

Need more job interview advice? Download our Interview Handbook