How to prepare for a competency based interview

Sara Sabin Posted by Sara Sabin on January 26, 2016

WHAT IS A COMPETENCY BASED INTERVIEW?

It is a method that companies use to assess whether you possess the competencies that they deem necessary to carry out the job. Generally, you will talk about specific examples from the past that demonstrate that you have the skills required.

PREPARATION IS KEY

laptop-prepI cannot stress enough that it is important to think about this in advance, as you do not want to be scrabbling around in the interview for an answer!

There are techniques for answering these types of questions and one of the most common ones is the STAR technique. The Guardian has written an interesting article in how to use this.

  • S – Situation. Be specific in how you are describing the situation, as if you are telling a story. You want to really put the interviewer in the picture of what was going on.
  • T – Target. This is where you describe your target outcome or objective.
  • A – Action. Talk about what you did to solve the problem and reach your objective. Also, remember to cover the problems encountered when trying to solve the problem, what actions you took to overcome these and how it impacted your objectives. Remember to talk in the first person “I did X, Y” etc. The interviewer wants to hear about you personally.
  • R – Result. What was the outcome and what did you learn from this going forward?

AN EXAMPLE

I had to make an unhappy patient understand the reasons for treatment (Situation)

I had to communicate to her effectively the reasons why she needed chemotherapy following her surgery to remove cancer (Task)

I made sure to approach the subject in as sensitive a way as possible, so as to not increase her agitation. I talked in short sentences, minus technical medical phrases, so as not overload her with information. I had prepared a pack for her to take home (Action)

She agreed to go ahead as advised (Result)

speech-markWHAT ARE THE COMMON SKILLS THAT EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR?

  • Communication,
  • Team Work,
  • Motivation,
  • Problem Solving
  • Client Service,
  • Pro-activity,
  • Performance under Stress and
  • Leadership.

TYPICAL EXAMPLES OF COMPETENCY BASED QUESTIONS

Each answer that you give will probably showcase a few skills. By preparing answers to common questions, you can make sure that you cover off in the interview all the skills that you want to demonstrate.

  • Tell me about a person you found difficult to work with? Communication
  • Provide an example of when you have had to manage expectations? Communication, performance under stress
  • Can you give an example of when you have had to handle conflict? Communication, performance under stress
  • What has been the most challenging part of your current role? Motivation, problem solving
  • Can you give me an example of a project that you had to manage (think of both a successful and an unsuccessful one)? Motivation, problem solving, team work, (client service), leadership
  • Can you give an example of where you have had to persuade someone to take on board the advice that you have given them? Communication, leadership

This is by no means a complete list, so do your research on the types of questions that may be asked.

If you need help preparing for your non medical interview, we offer coaching along with a CV review service. Send us a message via our Contact form for more information and prices.

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