Friday, 04 November 2016

Tackling a competency based interview

Does "Tell us about a time when..." seem all too familiar in a job interview? The Lady Recruits consultant Amy Cosgrove tells us how to answer the tough questions

Competency based questions are by far my biggest fear when it comes to interviews. I am the kind of person who likes to prepare for days in advance, planning the perfect answer to every possible question. It is very difficult to prepare for competency based questions as they can be very specific and are testing your ability to think on your feet.
The questions can come in many forms and the best way to equip yourself to answer them is to think about moments in your work or personal life that highlight your best attributes. The interviewer is essentially asking for you to tell them a story so to keep things structured we recommend using the STAR technique:

Situation: set the context

Task: state what was required from you

Activity: Say what you did

Result: what was the outcome and what did you learn?

Have a few scenarios prepared that can be used for multiple questions. Study the job description for the key attributes they are looking for in an ideal candidate as it is highly likely that you will be asked to provide examples of how you possess them. For instance, if the job description mentions the importance of team work, you may well be asked to describe a time you worked on a team project. Keep your answers quite short- limit yourself to around two minutes per question. Common competency based questions may include:

• What do you feel has been your greatest achievement?

• Describe a situation when you worked well in a team?

• Tell us about a time when you implemented change

• Explain a time when you have overcome a problem, how did you overcome it and given the chance would you do anything differently?

• Explain a time when you have had to deal with conflict

• In your opinion, what makes a good manager?

• Give us an example of a time when you helped a colleague

An advantage of open-ended questions such as these is that the ball is completely in your court. You can draw the interviewer's attention to the highlights in your career and it is a real opportunity to sell yourself. If you are completely stuck don't be afraid to ask to come back to the question- this is preferable to stumbling over a poorly thought out answer.

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