How to answer competency based interview questions

How to answer competency based interview questions
04 Feb

what is a Competency Based Interview.

Competency based interview questions are used to predict future performance based on past performance. In an interview you’ll be asked to describe a situation demonstrating your abilities that will be integral to the job in question. At Symmetry we call this the “tell me” interview and questions generally begin with “tell me about a time when “

Most job descriptions will include a list of technical and non technical competencies deemed necessary for the role. The competency based interview is prepared from the spec and used across all interviews.

For ease we’ve grouped our list competencies into 5 main areas. By no means exhaustive, it should provide a platform to prepare you to answer any question put to you.

The secret is having at least 3 different scenarios at your finger tips. Use these to illustrate your abilities.


  • Personal. Pointing to personal attributes including decisiveness, independence, values, integrity, determination, and risk taking.

Example: Describe a situation in your last job where taking a risk resulted in success?

  • Interpersonal. This your ability to work in a team. Can you influence others and get results?

Example: Tell me when you were able to influence someone in the business to get success?

  • Leadership. Referring to your ability to lead team, project or manage a situation.

Example: Tell me about a time you completed a project using the strengths of the people around you?

  • Analytical. Can you make a decision and back yourself? What is your thinking style and how do you go about solving problems.

Example: Tell me about a current or recent challenge at work, what you would do to help given the opportunity?

  • Motivational. This is what you respond well to at work. In this situation you feel happy and in control and you get results.

Example: When did you last feel a great sense of achievement?

So how

In a competency based interview, always use the STAR technique because it will allow structure and clarity to your answers.

  • the Situation.
  • the Task required as a result.
  • the Action you took.
  • the Result of that action.

Our tip

Be prepared with 3 or 4 real life scenarios and stay true to fact so you wont trip yourself up.

Finally, make sure you answer with words like “I” decided to, “I” did and not “we” decided or “we” did.

At Symmetry we work with our candidates coaching them to bring out their best at interview, it’s part of our job. Register your resume with Symmetry today and receive an jobs relevant to you. We’ll then do our best to ensure you are ready for a competency based interview.

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Craig Michilis

Craig Michilis

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