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What are Competency-Based Questions?

Ace that next interview

Competency-based questioning is a popular way of employees learning more about you, your experience and your attributes. Typically, the interviewer will want to explore and assess whether you have not only the right education and relevant qualifications, but also whether you have the right specific qualities such as attitude and interpersonal skills.

The interviewer will most likely be tasked to make sure that you are a good fit for each other, by assessing the 3 E’s.

Some businesses value certain competencies higher than others, where do you rate each area in terms of importance?

Here we give you 7 of the most commonly used questions that you may face an interview, used to ascertain if you are a good fit: 

1. What has been your biggest achievement?

If possible, try and think of a work-based achievement to relate your answer too. Think why it was so important, how you achieved it and the outcome as a result of your actions, to make it a success. Reference skills such as teamwork, self-motivation and organisation, as well as the results of your work, such as slashing costs or reducing overheads.

2. Could you tell me a time where you handled conflict within the workplace?

Answer carefully how you approached an uneasy situation in the workplace. Maybe it was a difference of opinion or heated exchange between colleagues, the interviewer will be looking to see how you adapted to this type of situation.

3. Could you give an example of where your communication skills helped to improve a situation?

A high level of communication is a key competency, so use a work-related example where you can. Use an example such as dealing with an aggressive or disgruntled customer or turned a negative into a positive, such as a complaint to a sale. Highlight your listening skills as well as verbal.

4. Could you demonstrate a time where you have had to manage or lead a team?

Summarise your role before demonstrating how you acted as a leader and got your team to perform. Explain which of your abilities were used to complete the task at hand and how you achieved success. Give examples of any lessons learnt.

5. Could you let me know a time where you have overcome an obstacle or challenge in the workplace?

Think of competencies such as teamwork, leadership or communication and use them in your answer. An obstacle may have been where you were understaffed and how you dealt with the extra work demands, where you lead a team to get a project done under tight deadlines or had to work remotely to get work completed.

6. Have you recognised an issue in the workplace that you have had to overcome through your own initiative?

An example may be where you have identified an expense to the business that is unnecessary, or perhaps a failure with an internal database that was preventing or damaging customer care or the firm’s reputation. Demonstrate the initiative shown to fix the problem and how you achieved it.

7. Have you had to handle change or disruption in the workplace?

OK, so here you can demonstrate those key capabilities and competencies to deal with the change. Chances are it may have been a whole host of competencies required here, from communication and teamwork to using empathy and experience. Be positive in your answer to demonstrate your skills!


So, we hope this helps when doing your pre-interview preparations. It is definitely a good idea to think about your answers prior to the meeting and have some examples at the ready.