Competency Based Model for Interviews

Why use the competency-based model?

– Focus on performance, ability and motivation rather than presentation and personality

– Increased hiring accuracy from 57% to over 85%

– Easy to learn and adopt for recruiters and hiring managers

– Candidates find this process logical and professional

– Eliminates ‘emotional bias’ by the interviewer

– Respects the 80/20 rule of interviewing 

– Reduces nervousness of the candidate

– Separates presentation and planned interview techniques from actual on the job performance

Competency based theory

Competency interviewing (also referred to as a situational, behavioural or performance based interviewing) is a style of interviewing used to evaluate a candidate’s competence

Interviewers pose questions that ask candidates to demonstrate that they have a particular skill or a “key competency” the firm is looking for

Candidates will be asked to do this using situational examples from their life experiences, to illustrate their personality, skill set, achievements/performance and individual competencies to the interviewer

Competency interviews feature questions that probe candidates on their knowledge of the company and industry applied to. This type of interview question tests candidates on their motivation and commitment

Key competencies: recruiters will usually isolate several key skills or “key competencies” to look for in candidates at interview. Candidates are graded in terms of each competency based upon their answers to competency-based questions.

Employers typically use some of the following as their key competencies:

– Teamwork

– Responsibility

– Career commitment and motivation

– Commercial awareness

– Decision making

– Communication

– Leadership

– Trustworthiness and ethics

– Results orientation

– Problem solving

– Organisation

Competency based interviewing – STAR model

Search for a STAR = 

– Situation

– Task

– Action

– Result

Typical Competency Based Questions

Attention to Detail

– Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that had been overlooked by a colleague? What did you do? What was the outcome?

– What process do you use to check that you have the right details from a customer?

– Describe a time when you have made a mistake and the subsequent actions that you took.

– Tell me how you ensure the quality of your and your unit’s work.

– Tell me of a time when you have felt it necessary to consult with others in for more detail

– Tell me about a time in which you were required to produce something to a high standard within a fixed time period. 

– Tell me about a piece of work you produced where accuracy was essential.

– Give me an example of the ways you check the accuracy of your work.

– How do you ensure all aspects of your work are completed satisfactorily?

– How do you ensure understanding of detail by your customers/team members?

Decision Making

Tell me about the last time you made a decision and you were worried about the consequences?

– What was the situation?

– What made you worried?

– How did you come to the decision?

– What was the result?

What is the most important decision you feel you have made in your career to date?

– What do you feel that it is the most important?

– How did you come to that decision?

– What was the result?


– Can you give me a recent example of when you have experienced a set back?

– Can you give me an example of when your Manager was absent and you were forced to make a decision?

– How did you table these tasks?

– How did you prioritise?

– What did you take into consideration?

– What was the effect of your decision?

– Describe a time when you were faced with a number of tasks, all of which had to be completed in a short period?

Drive and Resilience

Tell me about a time when you recently took on additional responsibility? 

– Give me an example of a task that you found particularly challenging?

– What was difficult?

– What did you do to overcome the obstacles?

– Tell me about a time when you have had to keep yourself motivated during a difficult situation?

Building Relationships

Tell me about a recent situation where you have had to build a relationship with a new Colleague or Client?

– What did you do in this situation?

Tell me about a time you challenged someone in authority. 

– Give me an example of when you have had to support others in a team?

Tell me about a time when you have gone the extra mile for a customer.

– What was the situation?

– What made you do that for this particular customer?

– Why do you feel it was going the extra mile?

– What was the result?

Tell me about the last time you feel you gave a customer good service?

– What was the situation?

– Why do you feel it was good service?

– What was the result?

Problem Solving

Give me an example of the last time you had to solve a problem at work?

– What was the problem?

– What were your concerns?

– How did you decide what to do?

– How did you implement your decision?

– What was the outcome?

– Was the problem solved?

Give me an example of where you have improved existing systems / procedures at work? 

– How was this received by your Colleagues/Manager?