The competency based interview is a traditional method. It is still the most widely used selection method despite being around for decades.  But what are the most common competency based interview questions?

If applied effectively, the behavioural competency style interview is one of the most successful predictive interview styles. For that reason, it’s worth spending some time preparing specific examples.

However, where do you start when there are hundreds of different behavioural competencies?

Preparing for the most common competency based interview questions.

There are some competencies that are generic to most jobs. If you prepare a few examples with these in mind, you’ll be off to a good start.

It’s really important you consider the nature of the job when you prepare specific examples.  So review the job advert and job description, as these documents will most likely give you an indication of the behaviours associated with the role.

Common competency based interview questions – Communication Skills

common competency based interview questions

Most, if not all, jobs require some sort of communication skills. Whether it’s verbal or written communication.

Think about how you apply this behaviour in the workplace. And always ask yourself who, how, what, when and why?

• Who are you communicating to?
• Do you talk directly to clients or customers?
• Are you presenting to senior managers?
• How are you communicating?
• What methods of communication are you using? Telephone or face-to-face?
• Do you present information or set up forums for gathering information?
• What type of information are you communicating?
• Is the information you are sharing confidential or sensitive? Is it complex or complicated?

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when you are preparing specific examples. This will help you to consider carefully what’s involved in each example.



Common competency based interview questions – Customer Service Skills

People tend to think of customer service as working in retail. They don’t necessarily consider internal customers.

IT, Human Resources, Accounting and Finance are just a few of the departments that support a business. The business is their customer and they provide a service to the business.

Consider a time when you have demonstrated excellent customer service. Maybe you exceeded their expectations?

Maybe you received a thank you! Did you go the extra mile? What factors did you take into consideration when working with this customer?

Did you resolve a query or problem? You may have spent some time educating a customer.

This is the kind of information the interviewer is looking for in your answer.



Common competency based interview questions – Problem Solving

Everything you include on your CV is open for discussion. If you are claiming on your CV to have the ability to solve complex problems, then make sure you can back this up with a couple of examples.

Consider for a moment that all job roles are solving a problem in the business. What problems are you solving daily? Do you identify the problem or are you given a problem to solve?

How do you go about fixing or solving the problem? What systems or methods do you use?

Common competency based interview questions – example jobs that solve problems

common competency based interview questions

Here are a couple of different jobs that solve problems in a business. They reduce risks, hazards or threats in very different ways.

Cleaners: Keeping us safe from slips, trips and falls. Keeping us germ free and reducing hazards.

Security Guards: Keeping property and people safe from threats. Dealing with employees and visitors in a polite and courtesy manner.

Accountants: Ensuring the business understands profit and loss, cashflow, balance sheet, forecasting and giving sound financial advice to increase revenue and reduce operations costs.

Lawyers: Educating the business on potential exposure to risk. Whether it be financial risk, reputational risk or litigation. Advising on the consequences associated with those risks and ways to mitigate the risks.

Think of a couple of occasions when you identified a problem and suggested a solution? What actions did you take? Who did you work with to solve this problem?

Did you use any methodologies to solve the problem? Most importantly what were the results of solving the problem?

Also think about what potential negative consequences your problem solving mitigated or eliminated. How did you reduce the risks? It’s also good to explain how you shared this knowledge with the rest of the business.



Common competency based interview questions – Building relationships

Another one of those essential behaviours that successful individuals know how to do really well. Networking is a skill and will most definitely benefit you in your career or business. It is not just an external activity.

You can and should be networking internally around the business with key stakeholders. Influencing and persuasion are good behaviours that link with successful networking skills.

All too often in business, departments work in silo’s and this is a highly inefficient way of working. There is a risk of duplicating efforts.

To be able to involve others in the day-to-day decisions that affect the business operations is a highly beneficial skill. Building relationships means you take time to consider others and work in partnership. Afterall, everyone in the business is working towards to same objectives to achieve the vision and mission.

There are of course many more behaviours. Best practice would suggest you need to prepare between 4 to 6 specific examples which cover the most common competencies.

This should give you enough examples to be able to answer several competency questions during an interview.

If you take the time to write out your examples in full, you’ll be surprised how many different competencies you demonstrate.

A competency based interview is about giving good examples that convince the interviewer you can do the job.

Going through a mock interview will allow you to practice without any pressure.  It will allow a professional interview coach to observe you in action and give you valuable feedback.