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Competency based interviews

cups of tea
Tea with a friend makes everything better

Up until the last few weeks I had no idea there were different types of job interview. An interview is an interview, right?

Wrong! There are all different sorts and recently I experienced the competency based interview.

In short, each question is targeted at a specific skill, or competency. Questions are related to behaviour in specific circumstances and the interview needs to provide concrete examples.

Example questions could include the following:

Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.

Why do you want to work here?

Talk us through a successful campaign that you devised and ran.

Give us an example of an unsuccessful campaign and what you learnt from this.

How would you handle a problem with a colleague?

What major challenges have you faced in your career and how did you handle them?

How do you handle competing priorities?

Why are you the best person for the job? What can you contribute?

The list goes on … If you want to know what interview questions might come up for a specific job or in a particular industry try looking on Glassdoor. I’ve found it really helpful. This is a website where employees and former employees – and sometimes interviewees – anonymously review companies and their management. It’s well worth a look!

So how did I get on in my competency based interview? Well, it started with a written test, as my PR and communications interviews normally do and that went fine. After that I was then before a panel of three and I was asked lots of questions including a few of those listed above. I was prepared for many of them but not all. Beforehand I’d spent many hours preparing a presentation, stalking their social media sites and going over and over the job spec. But I didn’t get the job.

I was notified a few days later that on this occasion I had not been successful, but I was told that I was in the final three, so that was nice to know. I emailed the HR department asking them to thank the panel for their time and also to see if they could give me any feedback. The feedback came just a few hours later and was really useful. I agreed with all the comments.

While I answered many questions well, there were a couple where I struggled to quickly think of concrete examples to talk about. So that’s one thing I’ve learnt. Next time I will have a list of great examples at my finger tips. I found that with my preparation I’d spent a lot of time reading up on the company I’d applied to and finding out lots and lots about them but I hadn’t spent quite enough time thinking about me. What could I bring to the company, what was different about me, what set me apart from the others who had been shortlisted?

I think I also rambled in a few of my answers and I definitely went off piste with a couple! So I also need to focus more on the precise question in future. The interviewer needs boxes to be ticked.

But onwards and upwards! Competency based interviews – I’ll be ready for the next one! Meanwhile, I’m drowning my sorrows with tea and cake with a friend 😊



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