In many ways, competency based interviews are a lot easier to prepare for than a general interview.
Competency-based interviews are designed to test how well you perform in certain areas. In other words, the interviewer is trying to figure whether you’ve got the right skills and strengths to do the job.
The competencies they’ll cover depend on the job you’re going for but some common ones include oral and written communication, personal motivation, planning and organisation, and problem-solving and analysis.
The main difference between a competency-based interview and a more general interview is that in a competency-based interview most of the questions will relate to past situations. So instead of being asked whether you like to work as a part of a team, you’ll be asked to describe a time in the past when you worked as part of a team.
The idea is that how you behaved in past situations will be a good indicator of how you will behave in future situations.
Try and obtain a list of what competencies will be covered. If not, all you need to do is pick out the key words from the job description that describe the skills and strengths needed to do the job. For example, ‘the right candidate will have excellent communication skills, attention to detail and personal drive.’
Make a list of the competencies that you think will be covered in the interview and for each one try to think up two or three examples from your previous experience where you used your competence in this area to achieve a positive result.
For example, if you think you will be asked questions about your communication skills try to remember when you have used your communication skills to resolve a disagreement, give a presentation or teach someone how to do something.
The best examples to use are those that achieved a great result.
However, don’t be afraid of talking about a situation or task that had a negative outcome. The important part is to demonstrate how you’ve learned from the experience. Explain what went wrong, why it went wrong and what you would do differently next time around.
If you’ve prepared thoroughly, you should have quite a few examples to draw on in the interview, but if you’re really stumped, describe how you would handle a similar task or situation if it came up in the future.
Keep answers brief and as precise as possible, always quote measurable facts.