Preparing For A Competency Based Interview

5 Mins

Great news… you’ve secured the interview! Now it’s time to prepare for it.Whatever position ...

Great news… you’ve secured the interview! Now it’s time to prepare for it.

Whatever position you’ve applied for, you’ll likely be asked to attend a competency-based interview.

Four Seasons’ Managing Director, Malcolm Costello, gives us his tips on how to answer those tricky questions and impress in your upcoming interview.

  1. What is a competency based interview?

Competency based interviews are designed to evaluate your skills and experience in relation to the role you are being interviewed for.

Questions are generally open questions, such as “Describe a time when…” or “Give us an example of when…”. The objective is to see how your past experiences would translate to the role you are being interviewed for.

To answer these questions effectively you need to respond using the ‘STAR method.’

  1. What is the STAR method?

The STAR method is a format you can practice and use to answer questions during a competency based interview. STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result


First, you need to set the context for the interviewer. Provide a brief background that summarises the situation that you were in.


Once the context is set, explain to the interviewer the task you were set, your role and responsibilities, and any dependencies, constraints, or challenges around the task.


Clearly explain the actions you took to successfully complete the task, paying particular attention to the key skills you used applicable to the role you are being interviewed for.


Describe the end result – the benefits and the lessons learnt.

Preparing for a competency based interview

I'll let you in on a secret... there's a cheat code for working out what competency based questions you'll be asked at interview. All you need to do is get your hands on a copy of the job description!

From reading the list of responsibilities you can work out the questions you’ll be asked at interview! That's right, the interviewer will be asking you to give examples of where you have delivered on the responsibilities listed. If the list is extensive, pick the 4 or 5 main responsibilities that will be required in the position.

There may also be generic questions about working as part of a team, such as ""Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace"" or ""How do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues?""

Think about the skills that you would need to demonstrate and create a shortlist of situations and tasks you have previously completed that match these criteria.

Once your shortlist is created, write down descriptions using the STAR method – making sure that your story for each scenario has a beginning, middle and end.

In the days leading up to your interview, memorise as many of these as you can. This will not only make you feel ready and confident for your interview but will ensure that your answers are clear and concise."

Four Seasons Recruitment
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