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5 Competency-Based Interview Questions

by Margaret Buj | Apr 04, 2017

Competency-based interviews have become a standard practice by interviewers. A competency-based interview consists of a set of questions that test your knowledge of different areas specific to the job in question. They are also used to examine your outlook and attitude toward managing day-to-day tasks, problem-solving, and crisis handling. Competency-based questions often require candidates to present real-life examples of how they handled a specific situation.

Here are five typical competency-based questions you may be asked during an interview.

1. Your Level of Organization

Most, if not all, employers value highly organized candidates. Employees who are organized tend to be more productive. In addition, those in managerial roles perform better by providing project frameworks and details in a timely fashion and staying on top of tasks that need to be accomplished quickly.

Questions in this arena may examine how you managed several projects at once, particularly if you had to prioritize, or if you had to work on a project that involved multiple departments. Be prepared to answer questions on project management, managing communication, and securing assistance and tools to keep everything rolling smoothly.

2. Your Communication Skills

Communication skills are a must in any successful company, and you will be presented with questions on your communication skills at every interview you attend. Whether you are a good communicator via speech or writing, be prepared to discuss this essential skill with your employer, and indicate the type o f communication that bests suits you.

Questions in this arena usually include detailing situations in which your communication skills helped solve a problem or defuse a conflict; they may also inquire into a situation where your communication skills failed, and what you did to redress the problem. As with any question that asks about your failures, it is important to be honest—both about the failure and how you sought to address it.

3. Your Decision-Making Abilities

Good decision-making abilities are important. Many supervisors value employees who do not constantly need to be told what to do and are capable of making decisions about execution, prioritization, and methodology. Being a good decision-maker in difficult decisions is also a valuable quality, especially if you are applying for a supervisory position.

Expect to be asked about a time where you had to make a difficult or complicated professional decision, and whether it yielded positive or negative results. Be prepared to explain what you learned from either situation, and how these experiences may have improved your decision-making ability. Once again, be frank.

4. Your Ability to Recover from Failure

“Failing forward” has become something of a catchphrase in professional circles, and with good reason. A candidate’s ability to recover and learn from failure not only develops their professional capability, but serves to assist the growth and development of those they work with by communicating those lessons to their co-workers.

Almost every interviewer will inquire about a time you failed to achieve something, or a situation in which your skills were not equal to the problem. Answer this question honestly and be prepared to discuss the subsequent results. Think very carefully about what you learned from the situation, and if it prompted you to further develop your skills in a particular area. Demonstrating that failure prompts you to work harder and smarter can help you secure a position.

5. Your Ability to Be a Team Player

While some people work best alone—and you should say so if this is the case— learning to work as part of a team is still a critically important skill, particularly with regard to high-stakes or large projects.

Be prepared to answer questions about times you worked as part of a team, and what you contributed to the team or project you were assigned to. Talk about how your skills complemented those of other team members, and what you were able to achieve together versus what you were able to achieve on your own.

About the Author

Margaret Buj is an interview coach who has helped hundreds of professionals across Europe and the United States get the jobs and promotions they really wanted.