Banner Default Image

Interviews in depth: Competencies

Back to Blogs

Interviews in depth: Competencies

  • Publish Date: Posted 20 days ago
  • Author: Sean McLeod & Natasha Beazeley

To download this blog as a printable pdf file click HERE

What are competencies?

Most interviews these days are what we call competency-based, but what are competencies? Put simply, competencies are behaviours that you demonstrate at work that make you effective. They are a mixture of knowledge, skills, motivation and personal characteristics. In demonstrating your competence, you'll be showing the skills and knowledge necessary for you to perform effectively in your role.

What is a competency-based interview?

In a Competency-Based Interview, you'll be asked broad questions designed to match your competencies with those required for the job. These questions focus on your previous experience, and enable the interviewer to draw from each candidate's ability to demonstrate successful performance in the job.

Why do companies favour competency-based interviews?

Your skills, attributes and behaviours are what make you unique, and influence how you respond to events in your life. There is a direct relationship between skills, attributes and behaviours and performance at work, so it makes sense that interviewers now ask candidates about their competencies and how they relate to the role they're interviewing for, rather than a standard list of questions.

We highly recommend that you prepare your best examples of when you have dealt with the key competencies for the role.

There are two main areas that you will need to consider:

The Role

Be sure to have as much information about the role as you can. We'll always provide you with all of the information you need to help you with research. Try to put yourself in the position of the line manager, and think through what the most important factors are to be successful in the job. How do these match the competencies that you have displayed in your current role?


Self-knowledge is an important part of your prep. To be successful, you need to make a good impression and be different. The interviewer will probably be seeing several people, and you need to stick out by being the most memorable one, the one that has something interesting to say, or can make a unique contribution to the role.

Think about your Achievements

  • The things that you have done that you are most proud of.

  • Situations you feel that you have handled particularly well.

  • Ways in which you have contributed to the success of the business as a whole.

What competencies do these achievements suggest?

For each achievement, think about the part that you played – What did you do? What did you say? What did you think? This should give you a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses, and then consider how to present these achievements in competency terms at the interview.

You should also consider how your experience and competencies match the requirements of the role for which you are being considered. If there are any gaps,

it may be worthwhile doing some more self-analysis and/or identification of achievements to ensure your suitability for the job – and the job for you.

The Interview: Show them your spark

Usually, the interview will begin with some general questions about yourself and your background – these will be followed up with some questions about

the key competencies. The questions often being with:

  • "Tell me about a time when …………”

  • “Describe an occasion when ………..”

  • “When has it been important to ………”

Remember the interviewer is interested in finding out about you and what you have achieved, not about your team or manager’s achievements. It is important that you talk about yourself and your achievements. These initial questions may be followed by further questions that enable the interviewer to get as complete a picture of events as possible.

You should answer the questions as specifically and spontaneously as you can. It's always good to have notes to remind you of your examples, but try not to read from a script. If the interviewer stops you from expanding on a particular point, do not be put off. This is to ensure that you have the opportunity to concentrate on the areas of greatest interest to the interviewer. At the end of the interview, there will be a chance for you to add any information that you feel is relevant that has not been covered and to ask any questions that you may have. It is important that you have prepared at least three questions to ask at the interview as it demonstrates that you have given some thought to the interview and are keen to get the job.

To get in touch with your local branch and see how we can ignite YOUR spark, click the button below!

Your Local Branch