Competency-based interviews are becoming increasingly popular as a way to predict a candidate’s future performance. Essentially, a series of behavioral questions, the interviewer will ask you to describe a situation which demonstrates your abilities that will be integral to the role you’re interviewing for.

The Trick to Answering Competency Based Questions

Answers to competency-based questions are very structured, so we recommend the STAR technique, describing:
  • the Situation
  • the Task required as a result
  • the Action you took
  • the Result of that action
It’s all very well having a technique for answering questions but we think you’d benefit from having a deeper understanding of what is required of you, along with examples of the questions themselves.

Key Compentency Based Questions

Drawing on 30 plus years of recruitment experience, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of key competency questions, grouping them into five bite size areas - Individual, Managerial, Analytical, Interpersonal and Motivational - for easier digestion.

Individual Competencies

These refer to:
Your personal attributes; decisiveness, tenacity, knowledge, independence, risk taking and personal integrity.
A typical question:
  • Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was challenged. How did you handle the situation?

Managerial Competencies

These refer to:
Your ability to take charge of other people; leadership, empowerment, strategic thinking, corporate sensitivity, project management and managerial control.
A typical question might be:
  • Tell me about a time you led a group to achieve an objective. 

Analytical Competencies

These refer to:
Your decision-making abilities; innovation, analytical skills, problem-solving, practical learning and attention to detail
A typical question might be:
  • Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem. How did you go about it? Was it successful?

Interpersonal Competencies

These refer to:
Social competence; many workplaces function on the basis of project teams and the more collaborative they are, the more likely they are to thrive.
A typical question might be:
  • Describe a situation where you got people to work together.

Motivational Competencies

These refer to:
The things that drive you; resilience, motivation, result orientation, initiative and quality focus.
A typical question might be:
  • When did you feel the greatest sense of achievement? Why? 


Remember, be yourself when answering competency questions; use real-life examples and relate them to your experience, how you reacted or how it made you feel. These are not trick questions; they’re designed to create the best match between an individual and an organization. 
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