Competency Based Interviews. What they are. How to Smash them. - H-Training

Competency Based Interviews. What they are. How to Smash them.

​Competency based interviews may sound unique, but they are not. Competencies are becoming a more common foundation for interviews.

They basically allow you to showcase your ability, based on specific examples from your career.

​This is important as it allows employers to know more about who you ​really ​are ​rather than suffering through some boring recital about why you are very nice. 

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Recently the United Nations even shifted to a Competency based interview approach and now offers its own online tutorial for potential candidates.

​What are Competencies?

Very simply competencies are a combination of skills, behaviours and attitudes that a given organisation sees as important to a role.

The types of competencies vary, but generally they form a family-tree.


  • ​Drive for Results
  • Commitment to providing a Quality Service
  • Customer Focus

Soft Skills

Performance & Capacity

Organisations tend to tweak or amend these depending on the role they are hiring for.

However, if you prepare a robust competency example you will move to the top of their list very quickly.

Competency Based Interview example

So, what does a good example look like?

Put simply, it tells a story. A story where the hero is essentially you:

There was a ‘sticky’ situation. John and Mary were at loggerheads. Team morale was low.

Then ‘I’ showed up!

This is basically the rule.

There was something bad happening and I took steps to fix it. But of course we need to elaborate:

“First I listened to Mary. I remained calm, clarifying and empathizing where necessary. Then I spoke with John. He was very aggressive but I continued to remained calm.

I told him that I understood how difficult the situation must be for him. He appreciated this and began to calm down. Eventually, he acknowledged his part in the situation and took ownership.

Mary still wasn’t happy, but the team continued with its work without any further difficulty.

Obviously this is a broad strokes account, but you get the idea. It can be summed up in what we call the STAR Method.”

Read our full breakdown of STAR check out our latest article here.

Top 3 Tips for Competency Based Interviews

1. In preparing for your interview keep it light and have some fun.

Tell your girlfriend or boyfriend how amazing you are at solving problems and making decisions on the couch in between episodes of Game of Thrones.

Regale the cat upon the merits of your Interpersonal Capacity.

On you way home from work, solemnly address the window wipers in traffic on the myriad ways in which you were born a leader.

The hope here is that some of this playfulness will accompany you into your interview and lighten the load.

2. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure

Try and remember that it is not the end of the world if you are unsuccessful.

No matter how dead set on a role you are, there will always be other opportunities, so give it everything you have on the day and rest assured that you did your best.

Your life does not depend on you getting this job, no matter how much you convince yourself that it does. Interviews are very competitive and there are lots of resources available now to help you succeed at them.

You will recovery if you are unsuccessful. It is not personal, there was just someone else more suited to the role.

It is even possible to recover from this:

3. Invest in Some Professional Help

Most people are willing to pay for results. An interview is a short opportunity to get what you want.

It is important to make the most of your opportunity.

By hiring a professional service such as H-Training, you will understand what to expect and be much better prepared to deliver.

Many people wing it in interviews. Those who avail of interview coaching have trained or done their homework. 

You may identify a mannerism or tendency you have that has been costing you or clouding your message.

Remember this is an investment in your future.

Interview Anxiety

Anxiety is a big part of Interviews and we have worked successful with hundreds of candidates for thirty years in how to manage these emotions. You have a range of options from mindfulness practice to simply acceptance and visualisation techniques, all of which we can work through with you.

But often these feelings are complex and require specific support.

No matter how helpful this information was you will always benefit more from a tailored approach.

How are you better than the others?

Get in touch today and find out!

We offer world class interview coaching on-line and in person.

Book Now

In just a couple hours I went from nervous and unsure to confident and composed…

Dr Jamie Davis 

About the Author Ciaran Hourican

As a professional coach, mentor and facilitator Ciaran has a passionate interest in developing competencies at all workplace levels but particularly in first-line and mid-level managers. His well-developed skills in coaching and his unique approach gains the confidence of clients and supports them towards significant development.

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