There are lots of different types of interviews, from the less formal, to the more structured interview, but one of the most popular types of interviews is the competency based interview.
It may sound like a difficult interview, but once you understand the format and what the interviewer is looking for from your answers, the easier it will be to excel. It all comes down to preparation and understanding the reasoning behind the interview.
What is a Competency Based Interview?
Competency based interviews, also known as structured interviews, are designed to test how well you would perform in key areas of the job you are applying for. The questions are designed to find out whether or not you have the right skills for the job.
The interviewer will ask you to give an example of a time when you demonstrated a certain skill. The skills they focus on will depend on the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a customer service based role, then competencies would include things like customer service, teamwork, communication and problem solving.
Competency Based Interview Questions
In order to better understand what is involved in these types of interviews, it might be best to get a sample of what you can expect. Let’s take a look at some examples of competency based interview questions and answers to help you get an insight of what can be anticipated.
- Can you give me an example of a time when you have had to deal with a difficult customer?
- Tell me about a time when you have worked in a successful team. What made your team so successful?
- Describe a time when you were able to persuade others of you viewpoint.
- Tell me about a time when you had to manage a conflict between two co-workers.
As you can see from these examples of competency based interview questions, the interviewer is trying to find out if you have the right skills for the job by hearing about how you have responded in past situations. The idea being that this will give a good insight in how you would respond in a similar situation in the future.
STAR Interview Technique
If you have heard of competency based interviews, then you will most likely have heard of the STAR interview technique. The STAR method is used when responding to competency based interview questions to help formulate your answers.
STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. Those are the main points that should be covered when answering these questions in order to provide the best answer.
Situation: The first thing you should be doing is describing the situation. Make sure you explain where your example comes from so the interviewer can get a better idea of what happened.
“When I was working at ABC Store as a senior customer service assistant, there was one season when the store was particularly busy. We had been set sales targets to meet by head office and it was important that the whole team worked together and remained positive. I noticed that one of my colleagues was starting to struggle to meet her targets.”
Task: Next you should outline the task, or what was expected of you.
“As a senior customer service assistant, it was my responsibility to ensure each individual was able to meet their targets so that the team would perform well as a whole.”
Action: The following step would be for you to talk through the actions that you took in the situation. Make sure you cover each point step by step and go into detail.
“The first thing I did was approach my colleague and ask her how she was feeling about the targets. When she informed me she was having difficulties meeting them, I asked her about her sales technique. I realized that she was not taking advantage of the sale we were holding at the time and advised her to mention this to customers in order to attract their attention and convince them to buy the products.”
Result: Finally, you should talk about the end result of the example. You should talk about how others responded to the situation, for example your colleague, manager or the customer. You should also reflect back on anything that you learnt from the situation.
“The end result was that her sales improved considerably and she was able to meet her targets. She was very happy that I offered advice on how to improve her sales techniques and felt much more comfortable with meeting her targets in the future. My manager also applauded me for taking initiative on the situation and demonstrating good teamwork skills. I realized that it’s important to work together as a team in order to achieve the store targets and improve the team morale.”
By following the STAR interview technique, you will make sure you cover the key points to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills for the job. It’s important that you remember to say I instead of we, as you should be focusing on what you contributed to the situation. Try and use examples where you excelled in your job to really showcase the best of your talents.