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Interview Tips – Competency Questions

Competency Questions

If you are applying for jobs then with a bit of look you’ll be invited to lots of interviews. You may not know what to expect though, for example, what are competency questions?

Often you will be told that when you go for your job interview this will be competency-based. What does this mean?

Competency is about skills and knowledge as well as attitude. These questions are designed to see whether you have the skills and knowledge to do the job that you are applying for.

Each question will address a specific skill or test your knowledge of a specific thing. You will need to answer these questions using examples from real life to show that you have this skill / knowledge.

The specific skills and knowledge that the interviewer wants to test will depend on the job role obviously but there are many competencies that are relevant to most job roles. These include:

  • Communication skills
  • How you deal with conflict or difficult situations
  • What your decision making skills are like
  • How flexible you are and adaptable to change
  • Your ability to work with others in a team
  • Your proactivity

How competency questions are structured

Often you’ll hear ‘give us an example of a situation where …’

Because you need to illustrate your answer with an example it is important to prepare for these questions in advance. Remember though, if you get one that you haven’t considered in advance, there is nothing wrong with taking a moment to think about it.

Preparing for competency questions

Go through the job description and person specification noting down the skills and knowledge they expect. This will allow you to consider when you have actually used these skills and you’ll be ready to answer the questions.

Answering the questions – The STAR approach

Provide details of the:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Get more top tips for interviews


About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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