How to prepare for a competency-based interview

over 2 years ago Carys Pegrum
Compitency Blog
​The usual format for a traditional interview is where you are asked a series of questions around your CV – focussing on experience, qualifications and what your previous roles entailed. A competency-based interview is very different as it’s more to do with specific traits and how you’ll fit within the organisation. So, lots of open-ended questions, asking you to describe certain situations and exploring your personality.

This may seem a little more daunting than a ‘normal’ interview. But as long as you’re prepared, it’s a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm, transferable skills and your unique selling points.

So, how do you prepare for a competency-based interview?

1. Practice - Your potential employer will likely want you to describe a situation where you faced a challenge and resolved it. ‘Tell me a time when…Give me an example of when…Describe a time when…Have you ever been in a situation where…’ Brainstorm a few anecdotal scenarios, write them down and practice retelling the ‘story’ – out loud! Your answers should be work-based but can be from a personal perspective. The more examples you have prepared the better.

2. STAR - In a recent blog we spoke about using the STAR method when tailoring your CV, and this technique can be used here too – to ensure your answer is as powerful as possible. As a reminder…Situation, Task, Action and Result. Stick to this structure and not only will your response be easier to remember but also packed with positive impact. If your answer is authentic and rehearsed, you’ll be able to speak with complete confidence.

3. Research - One of the main aims of a competency-based interview is to see if you’re a good fit for them – and vice versa. Do your values align, your work ethic and your character? You’ll need to do some research on the company to see exactly what they’re looking for. Know the job spec inside out and keep some of those key words fresh in your mind. Read through their website, social media and review sites. If you’re a match that’s great news. An authentic “fit” will shine through. But if it’s a bit hit and miss…is this really the job for you? Be honest with yourself.

4. Ask questions – This is your opportunity to find out if the employer is suitable for you – make this a two way conversation. Asking questions builds rapport and shows your interest in them. You might ask them to describe a typical day, see what opportunities there are to develop and maybe what’s your favourite part about working here? Competency-based interviews will still have structure, but the conversation is more free-flowing. And the more you can build a connection, the better.

5. Don’t be too prepared – This is your opportunity to showcase your personality. And while preparation and practice is essential, over rehearing is counterproductive. You don’t want to sound robotic and scripted. More confident and charismatic. So, try your best to relax and enjoy it – really! Lean into the story telling, take a deep breath, speak slowly, sit up straight and focus on one question at a time. Your interviewer is not trying to catch you out. They want you to do well.

If you’re looking for your next role, please call us on 01453 827333 or email [email protected]. Our team are here to support you with every step of your career.