Competency-based questioning is a systematic approach designed to establish your behaviours in specific situations applicable to how you approach problems and tasks.
This allows the interviewer to establish how your personal traits would fit with the company culture.
Often, the required competencies are listed in the job description. If they are not, ask your interviewer about them in order to prepare.
Each competency area comes with a set of associated questions. Below you will find some of the most common competencies with sample questions for each, as well as a short explanation of what the interviewer is trying to establish.
Apart from the obvious advantage of being able to adapt to new corporate cultures and management styles, being perceived as having a high level of adaptability can show that you handle stress well and respond constructively to criticism. However, at the extreme end of the spectrum, it could also indicate that you may dismiss feedback.
How do you normally respond to negative feedback?
In what way does the mood your colleagues are in tend to affect you?
Which was the last big change that you were faced with? What did you learn from it?
Give an example of a situation when you realised that your method needed to be change halfway through a project.
A highly sociable person will enjoy interacting with friends and colleagues as well as strangers, and naturally strive to create a pleasant environment for everyone. This can also indicate excellent teamwork skills. However, high levels of sociability could also have its drawbacks. For example, you may be prone to avoid conflict and consequently avoid challenging the status quo.
Could you tell me of a time when you convinced a colleague to see something your way?
How do you balance talking and listening in meetings?
How do you connect with your colleagues outside of the meeting room?
Do you have a colleague you get along with particularly well? Why do you think that is?
An inquisitive person is curious and hence someone who may be curious about new ideas that go beyond established routines. At the same time, this could mean that others may perceive your ideas as unrealistic or utopian, or, in extreme cases, that you tend to skip rules that are considered essential.
How easy do you find it to follow routines?
In what ways do you connect hands-on tasks with company goals?
Have you ever achieved change by asking questions?
What was the last thing that really fascinated you?
Dealing with Ambiguity
The ability to manage situations when you have incomplete or confusing information is something that will take you far and that hiring managers value highly. Not only does it show that you can work independently – it also demonstrates your ability to manage change. However, dealing too well with similar situations could mean that you yourself may be giving incomplete instructions or information to those around you, and that you favour high-risk solutions compared with safely established routines.
Tell me of a time when you had to complete a task without any guidelines
How do you respond when you are confronted with major changes at work?
How do you respond when you are confronted with major changes at work?
Could you tell me of a situation when you delivered efficiently in a high-risk situation when the outcome was uncertain?
Learning does not stop when you graduate but is indeed a life-long journey. Being able and eager to learn is hence something that most recruiting managers would like the prospective employee to be. Someone with a passion for learning will stay up to date will all the latest developments in the field, and easily absorb knowledge communicated at company training sessions. However, you may expect others to do the same, and be surprised when they know less about an area than you do. Wishing to broaden your horizons, it may also be that you pursue a lead that lacks relevance for your short-term goal.
How important is it for you to keep your knowledge up to date?
What is your strategy for deciding if a training opportunity will be useful?
How do you make sure to continuously improve?
Which was the last book you read?
The key to making things run smoothly, both professionally and in your private life lies in organisation, which includes time management, prioritising tasks and self-discipline. So, it follows that standard questions can be on the theme of priority, or time management.
How do you decide what to prioritise when you are under time pressure?
What is your strategy for ensuring that you complete your tasks on time?
How do you anticipate and plan for difficult situations?
When was the last time you encountered an obstacle at work? How did you overcome it?
A successful business leader tends to not dictate to others what they should be doing, but rather be someone who brings the organisation forward by inspiring co-workers and making sure that everyone is aligned and work toward the same common goal.
Could you tell me of a time when you made the team accept your solution to a problem?
When was the last time you took control of a situation where something had gone wrong?
What is the hardest decision that you have had to take over the last six months?
How did it affect you and the others involved?
All human beings who spend time together are likely to disagree over matters occasionally. In some cases, this can lead to conflict and so interviewers are likely to be interested in your ability to navigate similar situations.
These questions are usually straightforward, and there is no way to avoid them. Be sure to have thought of a previous example– one that is more significant than a minor disagreement, and where you (rather than a third party) provided the solution. Always remember to be truthful and that all persons – including the interviewer – will have had a conflict at some point during their professional life. Give a hypothetical example or none, and the interviewer may think that you dodge conflicts – something that is unhealthy in the long run.
Could you tell me of a major conflict you had with a colleague? How was it resolved?
Did you learn anything from it?
How do you move forward when you are in disagreement with your manager?
How do you act when your views differ from your colleagues’ when you are working on a project?
Being able to tackle challenges when they occur will come handy in any profession, at any level of management. Problem solving draws on many other areas and includes your ability to respond to the unforeseen, your capacity to identify and address existing obstacles as well as analysing information and drawing conclusions from it. This presents you with the opportunity to show your analytical thinking and to demonstrate self-awareness by reflecting on the relative success.
Tell me of a time when you solved a major problem. How did you identify it as something that needed a solution?
What were the results of your solution?
Have you ever turned a problem around and made it into an opportunity?
How do you identify problems proactively?