Preparing for Competency Based Interviews

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The competency based interview focuses on testing the candidate for specific skills and personality traits that may predict their suitability for the particular job position. The interviewer is determined to find out whether or not you have:
  • the right experience
  • expertise
  • cultural fit for the organization
You are given the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and passion for the particular role.

Most of the preparation for competency based interview has a lot to do with understanding the kind of question you will be asked and knowing the correct way to answer them. The competency based questions are open ended. This allow you room to develop in depth responses where you describe a detailed situation or experience. As the applicant, you are expected to elaborate on a specific situation or scenario that provides evidence of your appropriateness for the job position.

Another important part of your preparation for this kind of interview involves researching the organization you are approaching:
- understand what the company is about
- understand how your position will impact the department's overall success or the organization al large.
When the competencies are not given, you can conduct a quick search on the typical competencies required for that position and practice answering questions that will include thase competency keywords.
It is god if you mention relevant developments that have taken place in the company in recent months or years as part of your interview responses so that they know you are driven to be a part of the transformation within the organization.
The final step in your preparation involves selecting stories of the past professional experiences related to the job you are applying for. 5 to 10 short stories that will provide interviewer with enough insight and evidence to form the correct assumptions about you.
- assess the strength of your stories
- how much positive impact story provide?

Great story:
- brief context
- a problem
- an effective solution at the end
- must be honest and appropriately emphasize your strengths

No previous experience working in a corporate, draw on any collage experiences you have had, demonstrating your skills and competencies.

You will be disqualified if the interviewer suspects that your stories have been falsified or exaggerated.

There are two most popular approaches competency based interviews:
  • CAR - Context, Action and Results
    - The candidate is stating the context of the situation and the problem he / she had to deal with. OR The candidate states the particular goal he / she was aiming to achieve and the problems that stood in the way to achieve favorable outcomes.
    - Describing the actions he / she took to mitigate any risks OR solve the problem. => He / she states the effort made within the context previously given. Action should be presented in a clear and easy to follow way to avoid confusion. Ex: actions in steps, action and way this action was taken
    - The result of the action within the context previously given. The candidate will only share the positive outcomes with the interviewer, with emphasis on the decision' value to the organization or team. Result should focus on being thorough and detailed as possible.

  • STAR - Situation, Task, Action and Results
    - The candidate is stating the situation stage by describing the problem or situation that he / she are faced with. Provide enough information to justify the steps needed in the proceeding stages (explain the situation) to be easier for the interviewer to see candidate's roles and contributions within context.
    - Highlight the tasks the candidate decided to perform to: control, manage, plan or accommodate the previously stated problem. The tasks have to make sens in the given context. How the tasks (few task or more complex tasks) helped in achievement of the goal or outcome.
    - Describe the action the candidate took and the reasons behind his / her actions. Speak in the first person (use "I" instead of "We") to highlight your competency and skills. Give factual evidence.
    - Demonstrate the results that came after successfully performing your intervention. List your positive outcomes that were achieved. If possible, give a brief reflection in the value, lessons and knowledge you obtained from your experience. This will demonstrate high self-awareness, a valuable competency to have.
    Use different situation for each competency question you been asked by the interviewer.

For written competency based test, provide as much detail as possible (250 words for your example).

Common competency based interview questions:

1. Give an example of a time when your communication skills made a difference in a situation.

2. Give an example of a time you worked as part of a team to complete a difficult task.

3. Give an example of a time you resolved a dispute between two colleagues who were not getting along.

4. Can you describe a time when you have been proactive in finding a solution to a problem encountered by your customers?

All questions have to be answered by explaining (STAR):
- the situation you refer to
- task(s) you performed in that situation
- action(s) you performed to solve the issue of the situation
- the result based on action(s)
- the reflection (what have you learn from this experience)

The untold secrets of the job search, Book by Zane Lawson