How To Answer Competency Based Interview Questions

Congratulations, you have been invited for an interview, an opportunity to meet your potential employer, either virtually or in person. While interviews can make some nervous, properly preparing can help with this. Therefore, you should be prepared thoroughly for all kinds of questions that are usually asked in an interview. However, if your employer decides to conduct a competency-based interview then you’ll need a different approach when answering their questions.

This article focuses on what technique you can apply when employers conduct competency-based interviews and tips to answer their questions proficiently.

Let’s get started!


What Is A Competency-Based Interview?

In a competency-based interview, the questions that are asked are meant to encourage you to speak freely as they are open-ended questions through which the employer gets to know your views on certain situations and also informs the employer about any serious challenge you may have experienced in the past. The employers can ask a competency-based question regarding any aspect such as technology or your behaviour to judge your skills or expertise in that specific sector.

Furthermore, with the help of such questions, the employers can gain some insight into how you prefer dealing with specific individuals or challenging tasks. Every job has a variety of responsibilities and with competency-based interview questions, the employers evaluate how well you can handle those responsibilities.

There are various techniques that you can apply when answering competency-based questions in an interview, but the ideal and most efficient way is by using the STAR technique.


Examples of competency-based questions:

“Have your communication skills and abilities helped your previous company get out of a stressful situation?”

“What approach do you prefer to improve the office environment?”

“Tell us about a situation where you had to deal with one problem after another and how did you handle the situation?”

“Explain how you use your communication skills to communicate a problem to a client?”

“Tell us about the time you had to make a huge decision for the company and how did it turn out?”


What Is The Star Technique?

In a competency-based question, the interviewee is not just supposed to tell about what approach they took in a specific situation; instead, it requires the interviewee to explain why they took that approach.

The term STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

You start by describing what the situation was and give them a summarized context. Next, tell them about the tasks that you dealt with then move towards what action you took to get a grip on the situation. Conclude your answer by informing them about how the situation turned out after your actions and what you learned from the experience. Lastly, relate the outcome of that situation to the job you applied for and communicate how that experience polished the skills that the employers are looking for.


Why You Should Use The STAR Technique?

The reason employers prefer the STAR method is because it is straightforward. Furthermore, in the STAR technique, the interviewee is already prepared with a plan for the question resulting in a well-structured answer.

Furthermore, the interviewee should also make sure that their answer sounds natural and give a hint of your personality. Answers that are a little too well-structured seem robotic and might not leave a very lasting impression on the employers.

Here are a few tips to increase your score when in a competency-based interview:

  • Structure your answer in a way that doesn’t sound like you see every challenge as a problem.
  • Make sure your answers indicate that you have the will to learn and can compromise when things go south.
  • Most importantly, highlight the fact that you welcome constructive criticism and work constantly to improve your weaknesses.
  • Ensure that your answers are free from any negative indicators. Some examples of negative indicators can be:
    • Leaving an impression that you might not work well under pressure.
    • Disregarding the solution suggested by other members of your team.
    • Trying to handle large tasks on your own.


Top Tips To Ace A Competency-Based Interview

  1. Utilize your listening power. Take a moment or two to analyze what the interviewer is asking you and then construct your answer accordingly.
  2. Try and give examples of your experience that are relevant to the job you are currently interviewing for.
  3. Look up the most commonly asked questions in competency-based interviews and come up with answers that are structured perfectly and do not sound robotic.
  4. Employers don’t expect you to answer their question milliseconds after they ask the question; so, take your time and tell the answer slowly so that the employers can comprehend it easily.
  5. Do not use complex vocabulary to sound intelligent. Try to give a straightforward answer to their questions.
  6. Analyze the description of the job you applied for to predict what questions they might ask.
  7. Visit the company’s website and read about them so that you can relate your answer to their goals and missions.
  8. As we already know, practice makes perfect so, practice your answer but not to an extent where it starts sounding mechanical.



Competency-based interviews can pass quickly and smoothly if you have prepared yourself well, and this type of interview gives a lot more information about the potential employee as compared to other types of interviews. The key is to focus and reply in a way that reflects your personality and at the same time gives them the perfect answer to their question.

The tips mentioned above can be a huge help if you have an interview that is just around the corner. Stand in front of the mirror and practice for a bit to ace the interview and get the job.

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