Attraction and Recruitment

Competency-based interviews: a guide

Competency-based interviews allow you to assess the skills and experience of a candidate and to judge how they will perform if offered a job. The following is a basic guide to making them work to gain the best results.

Tip 1: Ask the right questions

Compile questions that align with your organisation and the specific role to help you best-assess how candidates perform in terms of skills such as decision-making, risk-taking, communication, leadership and team work.

Tip 2: Assess the answers to your questions

To achieve the best outcome it’s essential that you can properly assess the answers to your questions. Use a one-to-five scale ranging from ‘no evident skill’ to ‘excellent experience’ to quantify what you hear. It’s also important to consider factors such as enthusiasm and the motivation to learn new skills or, conversely, a negative attitude towards certain tasks.

Tip 3: Fully assess each candidate

There are five basic areas that you should be looking at when conducting competency-based interviews if you want to fully assess each candidate. Here are the categories and some ideas as to the questions to ask.

Individual competencies: Here, you’re looking specifically at a candidate’s personal integrity, knowledge, attitude to risk-taking, independence, decisiveness and flexibility.

Sample question: Describe a time when one of your ideas or your work was challenged?


Managerial: These questions will aim to assess the candidate’s leadership skills and their aptitude for project management, managerial control, strategic thinking, empowerment and corporate sensitivity.

Sample question: Could you talk about a time when you took a group leader role to fulfil an objective?


Interpersonal: You want to use these questions to uncover the candidate’s social competencies, as well as reinforcing their leadership and team working skills – or highlighting a lack of them.

Sample question: Can you talk about an occasion when you inspired a team to work together?


Motivational: These questions are the route to gaining a better understanding of your candidate’s motivation, initiative, quality focus, energy levels, resilience, results-orientation and drive.

Sample question: Describe a time when you worked your hardest and felt the highest sense of achievement?


Analytical: You want to discover how well the candidate can make decisions, solve problems and learn, in addition to judging analytical skills, attention to detail and innovation.

Sample question: Can you describe an occasion when you discovered and used a new approach in order to overcome a challenge?


Post-question analysis

As well as analysing the answers that were given, consider how the candidate delivered them. Were they being authentic and offering relevant real-life examples?

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