How to conduct a competency-based interview effectively

Competency-based interviews can provide employers with detailed insight into how a candidate might perform any given task and whether they have got the experience and skills you are looking for.

Choosing competency-based questions, relevant to a role or organisation, will allow you to assess better whether candidates are suited on any number of skills such as - leadership, communication, delegation and teamwork!

What are the indicators?

All employers will have a clear idea of the type of candidate they’re looking for. The process of scoring candidates by their answers to competency-based questions is something for you to think about and decide on. For a relatively straight forward question ‘Tell me about a time when you had to use team leadership skills. You should be able to gauge on a scale of one to five if a candidate has no skill/experience or has excellent skill/experience in the relevant area. You can also then gauge a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses through their answers by assessing whether they demonstrate a willingness to learn, an ability to perform or if they show a negative approach towards a task.

What are the key competency questions? Having many years’ experience in recruitment, we know the value of competency-based interviews. We have worked out a list of key competency questions, grouping them into key areas showing you a wide range of skills that can be tested.

Individual competencies

These refer to a candidate’s flexibility, decisiveness, determination, knowledge, independence, risk-taking and personal integrity. A typical question might be: ‘Tell me about a time when you had to make a key decision that effected your work.’

Managerial competencies

These refer to a candidate’s ability to take charge of other people; leadership, strategic thinking, project management and managerial skills. A typical question might be: ‘Tell me about a time when you managed a team to achieve a result.’

Analytical competencies

These refer to a candidate’s decision-making abilities, innovation, analytical skills, problem-solving and attention to detail. A typical question might be: ‘Tell me about a time when you dealt with a problem to come up with the desired result.’

Interpersonal competencies

These refer to a candidate’s social competencies, leadership and ability to work as part of a team. A typical question might be: ‘Tell me about a situation where you brought people together to work as a team.’

Motivational competencies

These refer to a candidates drive, resilience, energy, motivation, result orientation and initiative. A typical question might be: ‘Tell me about a time you worked particularly hard against a deadline and came up with a result.’

When conducting a competency-based interview, employers should be looking for real answers where candidates are themselves by providing real-life examples which relate to their actual life and work experiences. These are not trick questions; they are designed to create an ideal match between an individual and a business. 

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