Competency Based Interview Q&A

JobTestPrep's expert advice on how to answer competency based questions. Get structured answers for specific positions, and see how we can help you land your next interview.

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Popular Competency Based Questions

Here are some examples of competency-based interview questions:

  • Give an example of your sales skills.
  • Give an example of a project in which you were involved that required your teamwork skills.
  • How do you deal with stressful situations?
  • How would you assess your ability to bring about change?
  • Give an example of a significant decision you made in your last position.
  • Give an example of a change you initiated in your organization.
  • As a manager, do you direct the project or the people?
  • Describe a success of yours as a manager.

In competency based interviews, the interviewers could very much be interested in hearing how you contend with failure. For instance, a question may take one of the following forms:

  • Give an example of a conflict you had with a customer and how you responded.
  • Give an example of a conflict you had with your superior and how you responded.
  • How would you resolve a state of competition with a team colleague?
  • Describe a failure of yours as a manager.

Competency Based Answers

The core essence of answering competency based questions lies in self reflection. This means that one must prepare by reviewing and self-discussing his past job profiles, translating into words the tasks, actions, emotions, and resolutions that are part of the daily work routine. Just as the question "what do you do at work" is sometimes difficult to respond in a wholesome manner, so are most competency based questions. We do not ordinarily analyse our daily routines and behaviours, and this is exactly what a competency based interview requires us to do.

Following are several examples of recommended answers in a competency-based interview. As the questions vary from job to job, we have picked three popular positions:

Q & A for a sales position

Interviewer asks: "How do you assess your sales ability as compared with other salespeople?"

Candidate answers: "I'm considered a leading salesperson in our company. I received a bonus several times as the leading salesperson in the company."

Comment: That is a good answer.

Question: "Give an example of your sales ability."

Answer: A candidate who responds with a lack of confidence, and answers: "I have a hard time recalling a specific instance," will leave a bad impression. A candidate who responds with confidence will answer: "Last month I closed a big deal with a leading computer firm. The deal significantly increased the company's turnover for the last quarter." 

That is, in a competency-based interview the candidate must prove competency by giving specific examples.

Q & A for a team member position

Examples of team member positions are programming, customer service, project engineers, a team of accountants in an accounting firm, and the like. Questions for a team member position will usually test for ability to conform to a team, to form good relations, to accept authority, and to work under pressure.

Question: "How would you describe yourself as a team member?" / "What do you enjoy better, working as a team or working alone?"

Answer: "I'm a good team worker. I enjoy the company of people, I like working in a team, and am always willing to help and do my share."

Question: "Give me an example of a contribution you made to your work team."

"I recently worked with five programmers on a project for a large food company. I made a significant contribution to the success of the team in carrying out the project. At the end of the project I got a letter of commendation for my contribution to the success of the team."

Question: "How do you deal with working under pressure?"

"I work well under pressure. For example, recently the number of workers in our department was cut while the amount of work I was given nearly doubled. I was asked by the managers to work overtime, and I managed to work efficiently and in a professional manner during a busy and stressful time. I showed efficiency and professionalism in spite of the stress."

Comment: Adding the example reinforced the competency that the candidate described.

JobTestPrep Are Here to Help

The questions above test competency in various positions as well as the candidate's attitude toward managers and toward customers. The candidate needs to show competency in dealing with conflict, and to have a positive attitude toward superiors, colleagues, and customers. The candidate must demonstrate that even in stressful situations he or she functions calmly and purposefully. Candidates should have confidence in themselves and in their achievements on the job.

Therefore, in order to prepare yourself for a competency based interview, take the following steps:

  1. Watch our job interview preparation videos which will supply you with two important insights; the behavioural aspects of the job interview and useful techniques for overcoming psychological obstacles, as well as how top employers relate to the interviews they perform, with inside information on the interview process.
  2. You should have your CV with you and some scratch paper on which you can write down your responses.
  3. Start reviewing the list of competency based questions, and see if you have suitable answers for them.
  4. At first you can write yourself down the key points to discuss. Afterwards, try to talk these key points out loud, and see if it sounds coherent and convincing.

Our customers' comments on this product:

Communication Skills  Interview Questions“ Gave me the confidence to get through interviews and assessment centre, very happy with the service. I also got my dream job. Thanks JobTestPrep. „

October 2014, Rio Tinto, Western Australia

Communication Skills  Interview Questions“ I was successful, interview package was less competitive than yours, which gave me more confidence. „

March 2014, Senior Engineering Position

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