Top 10 competency-based interview questions to find the perfect candidate

Competency-based interview questions help you identify whether a candidate has the right skills for the role. They take the focus away from qualifications and industry experience, and are useful when you’re looking for skills like teamwork, communication, decision making and leadership.

3 mins read
Competency Based Interviews

10 Nov, 2022

This list of competency-based questions encourage interviewees to use real-life examples in their answers. You get to understand how a candidate made a decision, and see the outcome of their actions.

Our top ten list of competency-based interview questions will help you recruit the skills your team needs.

1. What are your greatest strengths?

This is a classic interview question, and with good reason.

It’s a chance for your candidate to prove they have the right skills for the role. Keep the job description in mind to see whether the interviewee understands how their skills relate to the role.

Remember you’re looking for transferable skills, not proof that they’ve done the role before.

2. What will your skills and ideas bring to this company?

This competency-based question is an opportunity to see which of your candidates stand out from the crowd.

A good candidate will show an understanding of your company goals within their answer. A great candidate will offer practical examples of how their skills can help you achieve that vision.

3. What have you achieved elsewhere?

Confidence is key in this competency-based question. It gives your candidate an opportunity to talk about previous successes and experiences that relate to your vacancy.

Make sure the achievements you take away from their answers are work-related and relevant to what you’re looking for.

4. How have you improved in the last year?

Candidates can tie themselves up in knots trying to disguise their weaknesses. This competency-based interview question is a chance to show a willingness to learn from their mistakes.

It’s also an opportunity to test the candidate’s level of self-awareness and desire to develop.

"Competency-based interview questions ask for real-life examples to show a candidate’s skills."

5. Tell me about a time you supported a member of your team who was struggling

This competency-based question will test your candidate’s ability to show compassion towards their colleagues without losing sight of their own objectives.

Those further along in their career should be able to reference training or mentoring that not only helped their co-worker but also improved team performance.

6. Give an example of a time you’ve had to improvise to achieve your goal

In other words: “Can you think on your feet?” It is increasingly important to be able to react to unexpected situations.

The candidate’s answer should highlight their ability to keep their cool and perform in a scenario they haven’t prepared for.

7. What was the last big decision you had to make?

The answer to this question should be a window into your candidate’s decision-making process and whether their reasoning is appropriate for your role.

This is a competency-based question designed to highlight how an interviewee makes decisions. Do they use logical reasoning? Gut intuition? However they manage big decisions, does their approach match what you’re looking for?

8. Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult person

All candidates should be able to reference an experience of working with a challenging colleague. Look for them to approach this question with honesty and a clear example of working through the experience.

Rather than passing blame, there should be a recognition of the part they have played in the situation, and how they might tackle it differently next time.

It’s essential to get a sense of how candidates would fit and thrive within your company culture.

9. What was the last thing you taught?

You’ve asked the interviewee about their skills, but can they show a capability for teaching others about these skills?

This question isn’t restricted to managerial or senior roles, and should be asked whenever you’re looking for a candidate who will add value to your team.

10. Why are you a good fit for this company?

The key to this competency-based question is whether the candidate can explain how their transferable skills would fit your role. This tests both an awareness of their own abilities and an understanding of what you are looking for in a new employee.

The candidate should be able to confidently explain why they want to work for your company, and convince you that they would fit your team culture.

If you’re interested in learning more about interviews, please contact your local recruitment specialist.​

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