How to answer Competency Based Interview Questions….…..

Most interviews include competency based questions that require candidates to describe real life examples of where they have demonstrated a particular skill as the basis of their answer to a question.

The interviewer will ask a series of questions to get you to show how suitable you are for the role, and generally cover your personal attributes plus others which are specific to the role. They are designed to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges. The skills and competencies tested will depend on the role applied for but typically include…

  • Customer service
  • Leadership
  • Developing others
  • Decision making
  • Flexibility & change
  • Communication & influencing
  • Planning & organisation
  • Results orientation
  • Process management

Answering competency questions is simple as long as you are prepared and specific in the examples given.  They should be seen as an opportunity to talk about your achievements and provide evidence of what you have to offer.

  • Check what skills and experience the job requires, reviewing the job and person spec, and think of the likely questions you would be asked around those competencies
  • Go through your CV and employment history and find a couple of examples of situations where you demonstrated those attributes
  • For each example, follow a structured approach using the STAR technique, remembering to keep it specific to what you did, and practice your answers.

Situation – sets the scene for the answer

Task – describe what you were required / decided to do. Be specific.

Action – explain what you actually did, and why.

Result – describe the positive effect of what happened as a result of your actions.


Common examples of questions might be ….

Describe a situation where you had to use your influencing / communication / team working skills?”

“Can you think of a time you had to deal with challenging / difficult people?”

“Describe when you had to change your approach to a task”

“Tell me about a time when your ideas were challenged, and how you dealt with this”

“Outline a situation where you had to make a difficult decision”


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