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How to answer competency-based questions in an interview?

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As employers refine their recruitment processes to improve their ability to identify the best professionals, competency-based questions are becoming increasingly popular in interviews.

While these questions can be challenging, they also provide the opportunity to emphasize your accomplishments and valuable skills. Ensuring that you effectively highlight your strengths is key to success. Here’s what to expect and how best to prepare.

How to answer competency-based questions in an interview?
How to answer competency-based questions in an interview?

What are the best interview questions to ask in a job interview?

  1. Preparation
    As with any interview, preparation is key. Before the interview, identify examples of specific goals you have achieved or work you have done that relate to the job specification. The personal specifications and key skills highlighted in the job description are good indicators of the type of questions that will be asked in the interview.

Many employers want you to provide specific examples from previous work and relate them to how you will transfer those skills and your experience to the new role. Take the time to consider the times when you excelled in previous roles and identify where you demonstrated the skills the employer is looking for.

  1. Rehearse your answers
    Responses to competency-based questions need to be delivered in an articulate, detailed, and structured manner. Candidates should be able to speak to the interviewer through their examples, explaining the process used to solve problems or achieve goals.

Many professional roles require excellent organization and time management skills, along with the ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently and effectively. So make sure your examples highlight these three skills to the interviewer. If your examples do not highlight qualities that you may need for the job, try choosing a different example that does.

  1. Pay attention to the interviewer
    Reading the hints provided by the interviewer about what he is looking for is key in a competency-based interview. When explaining your examples, notice whether the interviewer’s body language or behavior is generating a positive response.

The strongest candidates are those who can adapt their responses and behaviors to what they know the interviewer is looking for and present them in ways that influence the interviewer. Follow their formality level cues to show that you are paying attention to the situation and positioning yourself in a way that will help in any way possible.

  1. Try to anticipate questions before they are asked
    Having a good idea of what the interviewer will ask you is a key part of the preparation process. If you have considered the likely competency-based questions beforehand, you are less likely to be caught by surprise and more prepared to give a good answer.

Common competency-based questions in an interview include:

Describe a time when you had to work under a tight deadline while still managing your normal workload
Give an example of a complex project or task and how you made sure you saw the task through to the end
Can you describe a case where you developed a strategy to stay organized and make sure all your work gets done under pressure?
Describe a time when you had multiple projects – how did you manage your time effectively and prioritize your tasks?

  1. Be yourself
    While part of a competency-based interview is selling yourself, you don’t want to sound fake or forced. Professionals can tell when someone is trying too hard to give the “correct” answer rather than a genuine answer.

Give relevant, honest, and structured answers that show your expertise while letting your personality shine through. Employers don’t want a textbook answer; they want to see the way you interact and how you present your information.