Competency-based Interviewing…

Competency-based interviewing has been an approach used by hiring organisations for the past number years, over 10 years I guess. Established Human Resources Departments (HR) have trained their interviewers in competency-based interview techniques so as to ensure the recruitment and selection of the right staff. Through this method of interviewing, they are very sure of asking all the right questions of each potential candidate so as to make an informed decision. They realize how easy it is to hire someone, but how difficult it can be to let them go. Yet, so many interviewees do not know how to prepare for and answer competency-based questions when these HR experts put them through a competency-based interview.

Competency-based interviewing involves the hiring organisation designing, developing and making available a job description that details all the requirements of the role. This job description  contains many headings including Job Title, Responsibilities, Desirables, Essentials, Qualifications and amongst these or indeed as a separate section they list the required competencies for the role. These competencies have been developed in conjunction with HR and the Department Head who the successful candidate will be reporting to.

Competency-based interview examples would include:

  • Work on own initiative
  • Team player
  • Communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Ability to make decisions
  • Ability to problem solve
  • Project management
  • Financial experience
  • Ability to lead people
  • Ability to manage people

So, let\’s assume you have an interest in the role that is on offer, you send in your tailored CV and you are selected for interview. They have told you or you have asked them to confirm that the interview process will be competency-based…how do you prepare?

Basically, you need to develop examples that best demonstrates each competency that they see as important to the role. In other words they want you to tell them stories of where you in your past work experience (preferably in the past 10 years) have demonstrated this competency / skill. We all love stories, but as the late and great comedian Frank Carson would say,  ‘It is the way you tell ’em’!

Your example (story) needs to be designed in six parts:

1. Situation (background)

2. Task (what did you do)

3. Action (how did you do it)

4. Result (outcome)

5. Learning (what did you learn from this)

6. Improvement (what would you change if this happened again)

With this pre-preparation work before the interview, you will feel more confident about meeting the interviewers and they will be impressed with your answering technique, making it easier for them to understand how you have demonstrated each competency and hire you. Many organisations are now using competency-based interviewing techniques and are training their hiring managers / personnel on this approach. It makes for a more realistic conversation with the potential candidate, where they extract information from them by asking them to talk about past experiences in their career relevant to their own business experiences.

Whether you are an interviewer or an interviewee, seeking new recruits in your organisation or seeking a new job or career, if you have not discovered competency-based interviewing, you may need to upskill…

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