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!

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