A competency-based interview means no waffle

If you have been called for interview, I'm sure you feel a sense of accomplishment that you've crossed the first hurdle. In my experience though that candidates often stress about interviews they learn are competency-based. Worry not...

A competency-based interview is an opportunity for you to highlight real examples of practical experience that you have that is relevant to the job description, but I know many people who fear the two words 'competency-based'. The most important thing to remember when you are preparing for a competency-based interview is to choose examples that are relevant and that play towards your strengths.

For instance:

"Give me an example of a time you have worked as part of a team."

You need to specify what team you worked on, who you reported to and what the team was responsible for and then you can lead into talking about your responsibilities on the team and how you contributed.

Too many people make the mistake of saying 'yes I have worked in lots of teams and have plenty of experience working with a team'. This answer is not structured and will come across as waffle to the interviewers. It is much better to have a couple of solid examples of teamwork from specific teams you have worked on as it will show the interviewer that you have clearly thought about the question and have a focused answer prepared.

Even if the words 'competency-based interview' aren’t mentioned by your recruiter, still prepare as if it is one as all interviewers want to hear candidates talk about their own practical experience and examples of how they have dealt with different situations. Look for the key words in their description of the person they are looking for and focus on giving examples that relate to those key words and your interview will flow much easier.

Most of all try to remember to let your personality come through at the interview and give plenty of focused examples; if you do this you will have mastered the art of the dreaded competency-based interview!

Gerald FitzGerald's picture
Chief Operations Officer Group, London
gfitzgerald@premiergp.com