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Competency Based Interview Questions: How To Give Perfect Answers

Nov 25, 2007
The use of Competency Based Interview Questions is becoming increasingly common and not just within the largest corporations. Smaller and medium sized companies are using these tools as a means of improving their recruitment decisions.

This method of interviewing is also called Structured Interviewing and uses Behavioral Interview techniques to assess how a candidates past performance in work related situations can be used as a predictor of future performance.

Every job can be described in terms of Competencies, which are the skills, abilities or behaviors required and some of which will be regarded as essential and others desirable.

You may see them categorized as Managerial Competencies, Individual Competencies, Analytical Competencies, Interpersonal Competencies and Motivational Competencies however the 12 most common competencies are:

Communication, Achievement, Customer Focus, Teamwork, Leadership, Planning and Organizing, Operational Awareness, Flexibility, Developing Others, Problem Solving, Analytical Thinking and Building Relationships.

These of course will vary depending on the role and the level however in the job interview, you should expect a series of Competency Based Questions exploring each competency. These are usually behavioural in nature and take the form of:

* Tell me about a time when

* Describe a situation

* Give an Example

When you give your answer the interviewer may choose to probe deeper and ask about the detail such as:

* How exactly did you do that?

* Tell me exactly what steps you took to resolve that

* What was your involvement

By investigating further the interviewer is trying to discover more about your skills as well as looking for clues which may suggest that you are exaggerating your part in the process or have created a complete fabrication.

When answering competency based interview questions we suggest that you choose answers based on real experiences that you have had and be ready to give details. Your response needs to be relevant and sufficiently detailed. Be specific and tell a story. A technique to use when answering behavioural questions is what I call iPAR:

I = Talk about the part you played in IDENTIFYING or noticing the problem

P = Describe the PROBLEM, situation or task

A = Talk about the ACTION you took

R = Describe the successful RESULT by using figures and data to illustrate the benefit to the company.

And always use "I" rather than "we".

Prepare answers which relate to all the achievements on your resume or CV as you will surely be asked questions referring to these. You will find that you should have a sufficient stock of answers that will help you answer any competency based interview question irrespective of the style used.
About the Author
Annette Lewis is an accredited interviewer, job coach and career consultant. She provides free advice for job interview candidates at http://www.blueskyinterviews.co.uk/ and was involved in developing the highly successful online interview skills training system http://www.interviewgold.com/
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