Competency-based (or behavioural) interviews

Competency-based (or behavioural) interviews are based on the premise that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. Interviewers seek to obtain information about candidates past behaviour in certain situations. Competency-based interviews are structured, with questions that relate directly to the essential criteria and competencies required for the post. Research into recruitment and selection methodology suggests that structured, competency based interviews can be one of the most reliable and accurate forms of assessment.

A good recruitment and selection interview should assess candidates against each essential criteria or competency, asking questions about:
• Past behaviours and performance
• Learning from past behaviours
• Future adaptability to new post
• Knowledge and understanding of issues in relation to the post

What does the interview focus on?
Most interviews will focus on six key areas; leadership, teamwork, conflict, motivation, creativity and technical skills related to the job spec. They will be focused on those competencies which are most important for the particular role. You may also be required to meet other, specific essential criteria. This could mean in-depth knowledge of a particular area or experience of working in a similar role/industry previously.

What should I expect in the interview?
Competency based interview questions are slightly different to the style you may be used to. They will tend to focus on past situations and your behaviour in those situations. Questions are likely to start with: “Please give me an example of when..”or “Please describe an occasion..” etc.
Example questions include

• Why are you a good leader?
• What type of leadership style do you adopt?
• How would those you have led describe you?

• Explain a mistake you have made in delegating – what were the consequences?
• In what instance would you delegate a task?
• What are the advantages of delegating?

Conflict & Pressure
• Give an example of an instance when you have had an argument with someone at work? What was the outcome?
• How do you react if your boss asks you to do something which conflicts with your own deadlines?

Team Work
• Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
• When you joined your last company, how did you get on with your co-workers?

Staff Motivation and Development
• What makes a good manager?
• How you motivate staff?

Personal Motivation
• What are the three most important events in your career to date?
• What are your standards of success in your job?

Decision Making
• What is the toughest decision you have had to make while at your present company? Tell me about it. What alternatives did you consider?
• What has been the effect of your decisions on others and what was the wider impact?

What will the interviewers be looking for?
The interviewers will be looking for specific examples describing exactly what you did in certain situations, not what the team’s role as a whole was, or what you would do in a hypothetical situation.

You can choose to use relevant examples from your current job, a previous role or a situation outside of work altogether. You will be asked to discuss the example in some detail. It is likely that the interviewers will then follow with some probing questions, possibly to clarify a particular point. They will be interested in the outcome of the situation, whether there was anything you learned from the experience etc.