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
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
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
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
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.