You’ve been asked to attend a competency based interview (or a behavioral interview) but have never heard of one ? Have you not attended an interview for years ? been made recently redundant and are unexpectedly having to attend a competency interview and just aren’t prepared?
If so this site is for you.
How does a competency interview work ?
A competency based interview looks to your past behaviours to give your new or should I say prospective employer an idea of how you will behave in the workplace.
What is always helpful for any situation is to understand how this interview type is structured, this will give you a solid foundation ahead of the interview.
Once you’ve digested that take a look at the competency guide which will give you a whole list of competencies and behaviours you might encounter. This is helpful when your reviewing the role description of job advert. You will need to undertake this review to pick out the competencies that you will be interviewed on.
What I’ve tried to do is cover a range of competencies and with as many as I can. I’ve added sample questions so you can get a better understanding of the types of questions you will be presented with – and how best to prepare for the interview.
Once you’ve got to grip of the structure of the interview and the types of competencies with sample questions and answers I suggest you look at the more generic interview guides that I have created. These focus on the techniques of the interview process including laddering and the star interview technique. Both of which will be deployed during your appraisal.
How are the questions structured ?
In short this interview follows a series of laddered questions. One question building on another to probe your past behaviours. The interviewers aren’t trying to catch you out but they are giving you every opportunity to demonstrate the behaviours they are looking for. If you find the interviewer repeating questions over again your short a behaviour.
I’ll build on this shortly but what is critical in achieving success with a behavioral interview is to start thinking about examples as soon as possible to answer those questions.
Examples, examples, examples
Examples do not have to be specific to one behaviour and very often you can reuse them from different behavioural perspectives. So start thinking now. It really is the most important part of a successful preparation.
To improve your examples make sure you loop through the examples as many times as you can. Use a friend or colleague. They don’t need to understand the specifics but need to be primed to question you, ask anything they don’t understand and focus you on what you did. I’ve used this approach dozens of times and it really work.
I highly recommend you read my article about forming examples for a competency interview.
What not to say
As well as what to say, think what don’t they want to hear. Those no-no’s are often referred to as negative behaviours. For example, team players put the team’s objectives ahead of their own, so saying you stepped on people to achieve your goal or you succeeded but the team failed would drop you into the negative behaviour trap.
Don’t fall, but do think about the negatives, invert them, and think positive. As in life negatives can be hugely destructive and cause interview failure.
Don’t forget the traditional interview
For further tips to success check out another article on interview tips. This focus’ on the more generic techniques you should deploy during an interview.
Recognise that any interview is about three things, competencies, technical role specific skills and you.
Balance your interview preparation
You have to balance your prep effort between competency aka behavioural questions and those technical questions related to your role.
For example a project manager will need to be on the top of his or her game regarding the techniques you need to harness for successful change management (risk, dependency and issue management, financial management, critical path planning, resource planning, managing change, ). So please don’t neglect the technical skills whatever the competencies your prospective employer is looking to asses.
Fitting into your future team
Finally remember your prospective employer wants and I know it’s an over used piece of management speak but its true, they want a team player. There are not only interviewing you for your skills and behaviours but how well you will fit into the team, which, they may well be part of.