Competency Based Interview Preparation

 

Competency based (or behavioural) interviews have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly for finance entry level jobs such as Product Control where candidates generally can’t be expected to have had any direct prior experience of the role.

 

What is a competency based interview?

Candidates are asked a series of questions on specific competencies deemed relevant to the role.  If new to Product Control, they would be expected to use situational examples from previous jobs, study, extra-curricular activities or general life experiences to demonstrate proficiency in that competency and therefore suitability for the role.

Examples of competencies include:

Examples of Key Competencies 
  • Teamwork
  • Collaboration
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Prioritisation
  • Drive & Commitment
  • Motivation

In the next article , COMPETENCY BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: 20 QUESTIONS YOU MUSY BE ABLE TO ANSWER we’ll list some of the most common product control interview questions asked during competency interviews.

In HOW TO WRITE A CV THAT LETS YOU CONTROL THE INTERVIEW we show you how to tailor your CV or resume to highlight the job-specific competencies and increase the chances of the interviewer asking the questions that you are most prepared for!

Competency Based Interview Preparation : The Essentials

To be successful in a competency based interview, preparation is vital. Follow the steps below and you’ll give yourself a great platform for success:

1. Study The Job Spec

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Elementary my Dear Watson. Right? Wrong.

It never ceases to amaze me how many candidates apply for a Product Control job without a full understanding of the competencies required.  The interviewer is telling you in advance, through the specification, what the key competencies are for the role and what direction any competency based questions will take.  This is free information so use it!

 

2. Write Down All The Competencies Listed In The Spec

Take a sheet of paper and list each competency down numbering them in sequence. Your list might look something like:

  1. Analysis
  2. Communication
  3. Competency Based Interview Question
  4. Leadership
  5. Negotiation
  6. Problem Resolution
  7. Relationship Development
  8. Time Management

3. Match Each Competency To Your Resume.

Let’s take competency 1. Analysis.  Read through your resume and put a ‘1’ next to any part of your experience where you’ve demonstrated that competency.  Repeat for all competencies

 

4. Be a STAR

You’ll hopefully now have a CV covered in numbers with at least one example for each competency. The next step is to pick your two strongest examples for each competency and build an answer for each based on the STAR Model explained below.  Note these examples next to you original list of competencies.

It’s very important to be able to give more than one example for each competency.

Interviewers may ask for a second example if you begin an answer that alludes to a scenario or experience you’ve already mentioned in a previous answer.

The STAR Model

The acronym STAR stands for

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Click on each of the headings below for more detail:

Set the scene for the example. Describe the situation you were in.
What was your role? What task did you have to complete? What makes this example relevant to the question?
What did you do? How did you overcome the problem / build the relationship? What was your thought process?It’s very important to not only describe what you did here but also how you did it and why you did it. Keep the answers personal and focused and remember, regardless of how uncomfortable it may feel, that you are there to sell yourself, your competencies and skillset.
Describe the final outcome. Was it a success? If so how do you know? What was the result / what feedback did you receive and what did you learn?  If faced with the situation again would you have done anything differently? Show the interviewer that you are able to reflect on your performance and learn from your experiences. 
Describe the final outcome. Was it a success? If so how do you know? What was the result / what feedback did you receive and what did you learn? If faced with the situation again would you have done anything differently? Show the interviewer that you are able to reflect on your performance and learn from your experiences.

Where possible remember to use ”I” in your answers rather than “We”. The interviewer wants to assess YOUR contribution and skillset and consistent use of phrases that begin with “We decided to…”, “Then we….”, “We contacted…”, “We implemented…” will raise doubt as to what your actual contribution was.  

 

 Conclusion

You’re now able to apply this great 4 step approach to competency based interview preparation.  Applying this framework to your answers will ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance of answering the question in the manner the interviewer expects and more importantly make it much easier for the interviewer to score your answer well (for graduate assessment centres in particular your interviewer will have a prescriptive score sheet where the elements of your answer will be assessed).

If you use this tool well then your answer will flow naturally and come across to the interviewer as a strong, well-articulated and relevant example.

In summary, the secret to success for a competency based interview? Preparation. Preparation. Preparation!

NOW READ:

COMPETENCY BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: 20 QUESTIONS YOU MUST BE ABLE TO ANSWER

HOW TO WRITE A CV THAT LETS YOU CONTROL THE INTERVIEW

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