A Guide to Competency Interviews

Increasingly, interviews are based on competencies. These are particular skills and qualities interviewers are looking for in a candidate. Some examples of competencies are:

  • Leadership
  • Team working
  • Communication skills
  • Conflict management
  • Delegation
  • Influencing
  • Risk taking
  • Integrity

Check on the competencies required in the job description or the application form, then think about examples from your work when you have demonstrated them. It is important when talking about competencies to always give examples. Usually they will ask for this: “Tell me about a time when you had to use your communication skills to influence someone.”

Make notes in bullet form so that you can review them before the interview. If possible have two examples of each one because sometimes they ask you for another example.

Don’t worry about stating the obvious. What may seem obvious to you, still needs mentioning. For example you may believe that you are acting with integrity all the time but you still need to come up with a specific example. If you don’t say it, then they can’t give you credit for it. You could say something like: “My aim is to act with integrity at all times but I suppose a particular example where that became important was…”


When answering this type of competency question try using the following ‘STAR’ structure to give coherence to your answers.

S for Situation: What was the situation you found yourself in? Set the scene with a couple of sentences. Don’t go into too much detail at this point – save that for later.

T for Task: What was it you had to do? What was the project?

A for Action:  This part is crucial. What did you do? How did you influence the outcome? What effective behaviours did you display?

R for Result: People often forget this part. So make sure you end by clearly stating what happened as a result of your actions.

Using this structure will give your answers clarity and direction and will help you to speak to the point and to know that you’ve given the right amount of information.



Practice using the STAR technique, but don’t learn answers off by heart as this can sound over-prepared and inauthentic. Instead become familiar with discussing the examples so that when it is required you are able to speak fluently and precisely


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