Category: Interviewing

Master The Competency Interview Like A Pro

Time For Job Interview Written In DiaryAs if the interview process doesn’t come with enough stress, being asked to come in for a competency-based interview, where you’ll be tested on your specific skill set, is enough to make you lose sleep the night before.

The good news? There are plenty of ways to prepare for this type of interview that will not only leave you feeling confident on the big day, but will ensure that you ace the interview and prove your skill set to your potential new employer.

Ready to master the competency interview like a pro? Read on for tips on how to get through it with flying colors.

Read as many possible interview questions and answers as possible

Preparing for any interview is like preparing for a test. You have to put in the time and effort in order to perform well. A quick Google search on competency interview questions(link) will bring up a slew of websites to read through. Preparing this way allows you to have an idea of what questions could possibly be asked, and also gives you time to come up with smart answers beforehand!

Be as specific as possible when answering each question

When answering competency interview questions, think about your specific work duties, and what your role was on the projects you’ve helped to execute.  Now is not the time to be about how you worked as a team — the interviewer wants to know about you! Think about the problem you were faced with, what you did to solve it and how your actions contributed to overcoming the issue at hand. This format is commonly referred to the STAR format.

  • Describe the Situation;
  • Give details on what you had to do – Tasks
  • Give details on Actions you have taken;
  • Tell us the outcome (or Result) of the situation

This method allows you to paint a clear picture of the project/problem for your interviewers, and the impact you had on the outcome.

Think about the skill set the job you’re applying to requires

A great way to get a leg up on this type of interview is to really study the description of the job that you’re applying for, and identify the competencies that the employer may be seeking.

Some common competency questions include:

Analytical Competencies: This competency test is geared toward analyzing your decision making abilities and  innovation skills, as well as your problem solving ability and attention to detail.  

Example Question:“Tell me about a time when you identified a new approach to a problem?”

Example Response: While working for Company X, I inherited the development of a new feature from a departing developer. The performance of the feature was extremely poor.  After going through a detailed performance tuning process, I established set of development principles for the team to follow. This resulted in an increased overall application performance percentage of 39%.

Interpersonal Competencies: This test validates your social competence, you ability to collaborate, and how you function within a team.

Example Question: “Describe a situation where you got people to work together.”

Example Response: While working as a team lead of 7, I noticed that my team members were lacking “unity”.  As a leader, I knew it was my responsibility to steer the ship.  In order to boost team morale and to increase team collaboration, I organized a day long offsite team retreat. Although we got off to a slow start, before the day was over, better work relationships were established. Within 3 weeks following, a true team cohesiveness had been developed.

Motivational Competencies: This test checks your level of drive, initiative and quality of focus.

Example Question: “When did you work the hardest and feel the greatest sense of achievement?”

Example Response: When I first joined Company A, they were in the middle of migrating an application from one platform to another. Given my desire to expand my skillset, I volunteered to take on the responsibility to learn the tool and derive a migration plan. After 3 weeks of dedicated research, I learned enough about the application to make key recommendations on best practices.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment because I went from not knowing anything about a tool to becoming the SME with very minimal guidance.

Complete the interview prep guide

Before your interview, prepare several experiences from your life to use as examples that would effectively demonstrate the key competencies of the position you’re applying for.


For help identifying key experiences from your past that would work as strong examples for this, complete this interview prep guide (download here).

When it’s all said and done, the absolute best way to prepare for your interview is to practice, practice, practice. Preparation is the key to winning this interview and as I always say, you want to turn interviews into offers!

4 Impressive Interview Tips You Probably Never Thought To Do

So, you’ve landed a job interview at a company that you’d love to work for. You’ve probably thought about what you’ll wear, and printed out extra copies of your resume to bring along just in case. But once you’re seated in front of your interviewer, what will you ask? Will you remember the job experiences that you wanted to highlight?

Here are four things you probably never thought to do during an interview that will not only be impressive, but will take the pressure off, allowing you to nail your interview and secure your dream job!

1) Take Notes During The Interview

During my years of going on interviews, I always wondered why the interviewer was the only one taking notes. So it got me thinking: If an interviewer can take notes during an interview, and even bring along a list of smart questions to ask their candidates, then why can’t I?

In doing so, I found that the amount of pressure during the interviewing process was greatly reduced. Deciding which position to take, when offered, became much easier because I had structured notes, not memories to go off of.

As the interviewer is speaking to you and asking you questions, jot down important key words. Something may be mentioned about the job or company that you’ll want to address later, and it will be easier for you to reference it if it’s in front of you.

By taking notes, you’re able to focus on answering the interviewer’s questions versus trying to compartmentalize your thoughts to remember key points during and after an interview.

If the interviewer doesn’t have a business card, be sure to write down their name, title and email address in order to follow up with them after your interview.

2) Type your questions out and bring them with you

Before I ventured off into career coaching full-time, I began to put my expensive portfolio to use. Of course, it still carried extra copies of my resume, but it also included thoughtful questions that I had prepared in advance to ask about the company and the role I was interviewing for.

After reviewing the company, the position and the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, type out the questions you want to ask, and bring a printed copy with you. Be sure to leave enough space to write the answers you’re given.

When you’re prompted to ask questions, you won’t forget them, because you’ll have them with you. Not to mention, coming in with a list of questions sends the message that you’re thorough and prepared.

When the interviewers respond to your question, capture key highlights from their responses, and be sure to make note of who said what. This comes in handy when writing follow-up emails, as well as when evaluating a company to make a final decision on which position to accept.

3) Write down the key experiences you’ve had at your past job positions

In order to properly prepare for a job interview, you must take the job requirements and map them back to your experience. As you go through this process, take notes in the S.T.A.R. (Situation. Task. Action. Result.) format

Don’t write paragraphs. Instead, aim to capture one to three words next to each point for ease of reference.

This will come in handy during the interviewing process, since you’re being evaluated on how your background ties into the role’s expectations. Instead of relying on your ability to remember every project you’ve worked on in detail, you can quickly glance at your notes and speak in a clear and concise manner.

I’ve done this on several interviews, and it made communication much easier. It served as a guide to my thought process, and even revealed certain points I had almost overlooked. In the end, I was more focused and engaged in discussing my past performance because I had something to spark my memory.

4) Ask ‘relevant’ questions throughout the interview

You do not have to wait until the end of an interview to ask questions! Treat the interview as a conversation. Think of it as a tennis match. Questions go back and forth.  The goal should be to keep the conversation active and moving.

This is the perfect compliment to the previous point of typing your questions out ahead of time. As long as you have a guide, you can pick and choose which questions to ask, and when.

This also demonstrates your interest in the position and will reflect positively on your interpersonal skills.

Instead of showing up with a portfolio full of resumes, show up with a bit more, and put it to good use! You’re under enough pressure to make an impression, why make things harder on yourself?

‘CAP’ing Your Way To The Top

Often I am asked how am I  able to find jobs and get hired so quickly. I have had quite a few.  Not just a mediocre job, but tech jobs with reputable companies, paying quite well.  I’d like to attribute it to my good looks but I know that’s only a fraction of the equation.

My peers have labeled me  as “The Interview Strategist”.  A title I have learned to embrace but not without self resistance.

There are three core principles that my clients and I have used to be successful at interviewing. I refer to it as ‘CAP’ing your knowledge. Know what you know and own it.  Here’s how you can ensure success in your next interview.

Be ‘Confident ‘in what you know

‘Confident’ is often overused, but its a key factor that must be considered when you have to speak before someone who is measuring you up.  In every interview go in with a strong poker face.  Even if you don’t  know the answer to the question, don’t let them see you sweat.  How can you be more confident when interviewing? Ensure you’re fully prepared.  Know the details of the position and how your skills and experience will bring immediate value to the team.

​Don’t be afraid to ‘Assert’ what you know

Some say don’t be too cocky.  I agree to a certain degree.  Asserting what you know is not being afraid to speak it. You can have all the confidence in the world but if you’re afraid to let it show, the interviewer will never know how great you are.   If you’re asked about a project that you’ve worked on in the past, be passionate about it. Take it and own it.  Be proud of your contribution.  No one else can toot your horn louder than  you.  And let’s admit it, we feel good when we’re able to talk about ourselves.  It’s the best form of flattery.

Develop your ‘Personality’ to compliment what you know

​Now that you have all of this confidence and are comfortable with assertiveness, you have to be careful not to be viewed as being an ass.   You must balance the two by killing them with personality.  You know the saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”.  Find your unique style and work it!  A smile here.  A question about the interviewer there.  It’s all about making the interviewer feel comfortable and having the sense that you’re engaged.

As you go for your next interview, remember to “C.A.P.”  your knowledge.  With these three things I’m sure you’ll walk away a winner.

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