Guide to Competancy Based Interviews

You are most likely reading this because you have an upcoming interview and you are doing research on what to expect. Competancy interviews go by many different names like, behavioural or evidence based interviews. They are popular because they easy to arrange and cost effective.

About 10 – 20 years ago, assessment centre interviews seem to grow in popularity and almost replacing competency interviews. However, assessment centre interviews lost their shine because issues surrounding disability bias began surfacing. Along with cost and time required. Now there is a convergence back to competency interview.

What is a competency interview?

In this type of interview you provide examples previous experience or behaviour to demonstrate the competencies required for the role.

Reason for using competency, behavioural, interview

Probably the most common reason, this type of interview is easy to arrange, does not require a lot of staff, and it requires the applicant to demonstrate, by using previous experiences, how they meet the requirements for this role.

Furthermore, this type of interview is ideal for evaluating the applicant’s communication and presentation skills. Along with assessing the applicant’s behaviour, and skills to determine if they will fit with the requirements of the role.


Preparing for a competency interview starts with creating experience database and linking those experiences with the job requirements. An exeprience database means capturing previous experiences and linking those experiences with the role requirements.

As you go through this exercise you will begin noticing a trend and a core of experiences you can draw from for this interview.

Types of Questions

Preparing for an interview means anticipating the questions.

Typically, competancy interview questions start with

  • Tell me about time when ….
  • Describe to me ….
  • How did you ….
  • Give me an example

Also, competency-based questions can focus on achievements and how you brought about that achievement.

Answering a competancy question

Answering is like telling a story. There is a beginning, a middle, and the end. Unlike telling a story you will have are two competing requirements. One requirement is to provide detail. However, there will be a competing demand, being concise.

You can search and find endless recommendations for answering competency type of questions. From my experience, I find

  • Setting the scene by telling what you were asked
  • Next, talking about the steps you took. Including any challenges, you faced and how you overcame them.
  • Result, of what you did
  • Outcome, what you learned and what you would do differently if you did it again.

Reality, interviewers know experiences are not perfect and there are a few ‘hiccups,’ along the way. Adding the ‘hiccups,’ adds to the story and demonstrates your softer skills, like communication and team working.

So, don’t sanitise the story but at the same time don’t lie or stretch the truth to make your story more interesting.

Selecting the experience

In the above section I talk about how to structure your reply and the elements your reply should have. This raises the question, what experience should you include? Look for experiences that,

  • Relates to your current role. Avoid using personal experiences or volunteering experiences. Also, if you need to draw from a previous role, you should go back no more than 3 years.
  • Experiences, that were not easy. The experience drew up your passion for your role, where you were a leader and delivered.
  • Experiences that were learning experiences for you and you made changes because of it.
  • Look for accomplishments but also, something that went bad that is a learning experience for you.

At the interview

You can spend hours rehearsing questions but there are limits. Rehearsing will get you comfortable answering questions, but it will not help you if you have not seen the question.

So how do you prepare for the unknown?

Learn the job requirements and person specifics for the role. These, will be listed in the job advertisement and the questions will come from the job advert.

Prior to the interview you should identify 3 experiences that you can use. When you were working on your experience database and matching your experiences to the role, you will notice probably 3 – 5 experiences that strongly relate to the role. Choose three of them and work through them using the above approach for answering questions. By having three experiences that you know well and relate to the role being advertised, you can draw on them to answer any question.


Competency interviews are nothing to fear. Once you get some practice and remember to provide a complete answer, answering competency type questions will be easy. Remember Exclusive Career Advice is here to help you and can help you prepare for your next interview. Questions? Please use the contact form or use our contact us page.

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Guide: How to prepare and answer cometancy based job interview questions
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Guide: How to prepare and answer cometancy based job interview questions
Free guide on questions and answers for cometancy based job interview.
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Exclusive Career Advice
Author: admin
Before moving to the United Kingdom, I worked in the U.S.A as a supply teacher who primarily taught math and taught at alternative education sites (e.g. juvenille detention, behaviour classrooms, and sites for students that were court ordered).When I moved to United Kingdom I chose to draw on my adaptive software skills knowledge. Whereby I developed administration and IT skills. Through my hard work I progressed into a senior health care manager role.I have several years experience in interviewing, reviewing applications and managing a team. Drawing on my experiences, I have created this site to help you.

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