General Interview vs Competency-based Interview, What’s the Difference?

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    General Interview vs Competency-based Interview

    Those who’ve applied for public sector roles, whether internally or externally, are likely familiar with Competency-based Interviews. In contrast, individuals in the private sector may have less exposure to this format, although interviewers in the private sector often receive training in preparing for and conducting Competency-based Interviews.

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

    General Interviews

    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

    Competency-based Interview

    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 employment
    • 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 practising 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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