How to Crack Competency-Based Interview: 6 Step Guide

How to Crack a Competency Based Interview

How to Crack a Competency Based Interview? / Acing Competency Based Interviews / Techniques to Ace Competency Based Interviews/ Step by Step Guide for Competency Based Interviews

What happens when you go fully prepared for an interview, but the interviewer does not seem to be interested in your experience or your qualifications! In such a situation, the interviewer may evaluate you on the basis of a ‘competency-based interview’. You might have come across panel interviews or telephonic interviews, but have you ever come across a competency-based interview? Need not worry, as there is always a first time!

What is a competency-based interview?

 As the name suggests, such interviews are conducted to assess your competence. It is commonly conducted for job roles where the interviewer needs to judge your skills and behavior.

While some interviewers may be more interested in your experience or previous qualifications, what a competency-based interviewer really wants to know is whether you have the right skills to take up the position. 

Why would an employer use a competency-based interview?

These interviews are often used when previous industry-related experience is not seen as crucial, for instance in case of an entry-level or graduate position.

It is basically used to assess one’s practical knowledge, like how the candidate would react in a given situation. So rather than concerning themselves with past achievements, they place emphasis on predicting how an individual would behave in a certain scenario.

The situations could range from oral and written communication to planning, organization and problem-solving.

Competency-Based Interview Questions

Competency-Based Interview Questions:

Some typical instances of competency-based interview questions are:

  • Describe a time when you took an initiative to resolve a particularly difficult problem.
  • Give an instance when you took a decision without having all the necessary information. What was the outcome of it?
  • Give me an example of an important goal you achieved and how you achieved it.
  • Describe the most difficult project you were involved in and the hurdles you overcame in order to successfully complete the project.
  • Give me an instance of any difficult situation you experienced with another employee and explain how you resolved the issue.
  • Tell me about a time when you showcased good leadership skills.

These are the different ways to bring out confidence while answering competency-based interview questions:

  • Use “I” while answering Instead of using “We” so as to stress more upon yourself.
  • Deliver a clear and detailed description of the problem, situation or task at hand.
  • Discuss the actions you would like to take.
  • Target the result and describe it clearly using figures and data to illustrate the benefits.

How to Succeed in a Competency-Based Interview:

One can follow certain guidelines or ways to pass the competency-based interview:

  1. Stay concise: Irrespective of what situation you are discussing, ensure that you respond in a clear and concise manner. Focus on any one instance and ensure that your reply is brief and related to the topic emphasized in the question.
  1. Be natural: When you are responding to a question related to work issues ensure that you do not appear to blame anyone. Concentrate on your sole actions and do not discuss other individual’s failures or troubles.
  1. Be prepared: Preparation is the key for all type of interviews. Before your interview, just read out the key skills mentioned in the job description. Try to prepare an answer for at least one question related to each of the competencies.
  1. Don’t lie: No matter what, make sure that you restrain yourself from discussing any false incidence or any incorrect answer. They might ask you a question related to the situation, for which you do not have any reply – accept it and be honest.
  1. Don’t mix situations and answers: Avoid mixingyour responses for two different situations. Do not present a solution belonging to one competency for a question asked to judge another competency. It is good to be prepared but do not verbose your responses which might create confusion while answering.

    Such interviews are known for spontaneity and describing your action in a particular situation.
  1. Practice: Similar to other kinds of interviews, practicing for this interview is also quite essential. So, ensure that you practice hard and can confidently answer all sorts of questions asked during your interview.

Competency-Based Interview Techniques:

There are some techniques that you can adopt in order to successfully answer all kinds of questions related to the competency- based interviews. With the help of these techniques, your response would sound more professional and impressive.

STAR Technique: This may also be referred to as ‘SOAR’, where Task is replaced with Objective.

Tips to master the STAR interview technique

Tips to master the STAR interview technique

Tip 1: Take about 6-8 seconds to prepare and structure your response.

Tip 2: Do not think of new details during the answer. Go with the plan you initially developed.

Tip 3: Focus on being more specific rather than being generic. If you are creating an experience with unknown characters and undefined parameters for achieving success, it would sound unconvincing.

Tip 4: Finish the experience / story with a positive outlook for a great overall impression. Ideally, the experience sharing should lead from a problem/task to its successful completion.

Tip 5: Be ready for follow-up questions. The interviewer would want to know what you learnt from the experience (Not just the experience).

Tip 6:  For appropriate answers, prepare and practice 5-8 experiences before the interview. And only use latest instances. (No points for high school stories for experienced professionals).

Bonus Tip: Revisit your resume just before going into the interview. This will refresh your memory.

CAR Technique:

In the CAR technique, ‘C’ implies Context, where context means your introduction and you need to describe a situation that you faced. ‘A’ implies Action and must be the lengthy section of your answer. ‘R’ implies Result that is attained by your action.

  • Context – Discuss about the situation and the task you deal with, where, whom and when.
  • Action Describe the actions that you executed.
  • Result Talk about results that you accomplished through your actions


With increasing competition in the market, the inclusion of such competence questions in the interviews has increased in all types of organizations. All job roles can be described in terms of competencies which are nothing but the skills, abilities and behaviors required for it. All you need to do is decide your priorities and appear for the interview with the best possible answers.


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