Possible interview questions

The Top Ten Competency Based Interview Questions

A competency – based interview requires the candidate to demonstrate their ability to meet the competencies required for effective performance in the job for which they have applied. The candidate must be able to provide specific examples of their skills and abilities in each of the competency areas. Examples must provide evidence of what the candidate did, not the team or group, and must be structured to explain: Situation, Task, Action and Result ie the STAR approach.

Here are our top 10 sample competency – based questions that interviewers often use and some indicators which demonstrate skills and abilities in the competency areas.

#1 Leadership

Can you give an example of how you used your leadership skills in a challenging situation?  Tell us about a time when you managed competing priorities in a leadership role to deliver key objective?  Give an example of how you used your leadership skills to improve the performance of your team?

Your evidence should include how you have set goals and objectives and how these were communicated to the team. How you inspired others, influenced, persuaded, delegated and challenged as appropriate. Motivated and provided feedback and treated all team members with respect.

#2 Decision Making

Give an example of a difficult decision you made recently. Why was it difficult?  Give an example of a difficult decision you have had to take where you had to balance conflicting interests and agendas.  Tell us about a time when you had to consult with others before coming to a decision.

Effectiveness in this area is about being objective, using sound judgment and providing accurate and expert advice. You will be assessed on how you have made well informed and timely decisions after research, analysis and guidance and understood the impact and implications of any decisions you made.

#3 Communication

Give an example which best describes your ability to communicate to a wide range of people.  Give an example of when you communicated a controversial or difficult message to stakeholders/clients.  Give an example of when you had to convince someone of your point of view.

Assessment will include your ability to put forward views in a clear and constructive manner. How you chose the appropriate means of communication, ie email, telephone or face to face. Discussed with colleagues, stakeholders and customers as appropriate. Listened and asked questions to appreciate others’ point of view.

#4 Collaborating and Partnering

Give an example of when you built effective working relationships with colleagues, where there were differing views and an outcome had to be reached.  Give an example of a time when you collaborated with another department to deliver a positive outcome.  Give an example of how you managed relationships or partnerships with stakeholders or other organisations to achieve a strategic goal for your organisation.

You should demonstrate how you built and maintained professional and productive relationships with a range of colleagues and stakeholders both inside and outside the organisation. How you listened to the views of others, sought help when needed, and saw issues from others point of view. How this contributed to the overall work of the team, and how you supported and challenged where necessary.

#5 Managing Change

Give an example of the biggest change you have ever had to implement.  Give an example of your ability to successfully implement change.  Give an example of a time when you had to implement procedural change.

Your examples should demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to embrace change. How you adapted to change and came up with ideas to improve how things were done. Times when you learned new procedures and assisted colleagues/others to implement change and considered/measured the impact of change on the services provided.

#6 Seeing the Big Picture – Strategic Management

Tell me about a time when you worked outside the scope of your role.  Give an example of how you personally brought about a strategic change of direction.  Tell me about a time when you had to secure input from other departments to deliver as positive outcome.

You should include evidence that demonstrates you did not work in isolation and that you considered how your own job impacted on colleagues/other departments/stakeholders. How you networked with other sources to gather information which impacted on and improved your own working practices and quality of service.

#7 Delivering Value for Money

Give an example of where you improved productivity in your team.  Describe a situation where you produced better results with fewer resources. Describe a situation where you changed your approach which led to more cost – effective outcomes.

Interviewers will look for examples of how you managed resources (time, staff, money etc) and challenged/reported wastage as appropriate. How you maintained accurate financial and performance information and looked for more cost- effective ways of improving productivity and reducing costs.

#8 Delivering at Pace

Can you describe a time when you had to undertake a time critical task?  Tell us about a time when you delivered a high – quality project on target and to timescale.  Tell us about a time when you had to sacrifice on quality in order to deliver a project on time.

Effectiveness in this area will include evidence of consistent performance, examples of your organisational skills and how you delivered on time and quality. How you dealt with challenges and the unexpected and prioritised as appropriate to deliver quality outcomes and achieve organisational goals and targets.

#9 Managing a Quality Service

Can you tell us about a time when you were proactive in finding a solution to a problem encountered by one of your customers?  Describe a project/piece of work you’ve planned and implemented which improved the quality of service to customers.  Can you recall a time when you dealt with a difficult customer and personally managed the situation to ensure the customer got the highest level of customer service?

Your examples should include evidence of how you understood customers’ needs and requirements and how you organised and managed resources to deliver a high quality, consistent and efficient service. How you communicated with customers, internal and external, took ownership of problems, identified improvement opportunities and delivered service excellence.

#10 Team Work

Tell us about a time when you were a key team player in an important task/project?  Describe how you developed relationships with other team members.  Give an example of working in a team where there was conflict. What did you do to help resolve it?

Evidence in this area should include examples of how you supported group decisions and helped others. Times when you listened and responded to team members ideas and proposals, how you earned the trust of colleagues and were able to input to disagreements constructively. How you worked towards business goals, demonstrated a strong work ethic and strived for excellence.

Thank you to Jean Haworth, our specialist in interview preparation for writing this blog.  Jean regularly delivers one-to-one coaching sessions with individuals preparing for competency-based interviews and many of her clients are successful in obtaining their dream job.