“…Do you know the difference between a General Interview and a Competency-based Interview…?”

People who have applied for jobs in the public sector as either internal or external applicants will know all about Competency-based Interviews, whereas people who have applied for jobs in the private sector may not know that much about Competency-based Interviews, though Interviewers for the latter are or have been trained on how to prepare for and conduct a Competency-based Interview.

So, what is the difference between a General Interview and a Competency-based interview?

In a General Interview, there is a focus on the present and the future, whereas in a Competency-based Interview, there is a focus on the past and the present.

  • In a General Interview, Interviewers:

– ask about your career, employment, academic and training history

– ask closed questions

– focus on personal-related questions

– want to hear your thoughts and opinions

– are interested to know how much you know about the organization, their products and services

– are curious to know why you applied for the job

– ask, ‘Why should we hire you?’

– ask, ‘What can you bring to the role?’

– are keen to understand your personality

– want to know if you will fit in

– want to gauge will they like you

  • In a Competency-based Interview, Interviewers:

– have a list of skills i.e., competencies that are key to the role being carried out successfully by the successful candidate

– want the Interviewees to provide examples of where they have demonstrated these skills / competencies in past or present employments

– expect to see and hear a structure to these examples, which in effect are stories i.e., every great story has a start (background) / middle (what did you do and how did you do it) / end (results and outcomes)

– will probe you on the content of your examples and delve deep into what you are saying by asking the 5 W’s and 1 H Q’s

– want to understand that you understand the criteria of the job; and you need to help them do this by developing, narrating and practicing great and relevant examples tailored to the competency explanation and the job description

When you are been invited for an Interview, expect the Competency- based Interview approach, with a bit of General thrown in too…!

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