Mastering Competency-Based Application Forms and Interviews: Your Guide to Public Sector Job Success

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    Competency-based application forms and competency-based interviews are now the norm when it comes to public sector job applications and interviews. Competency-based application forms have replaced the conventional cover letter and CV so as to bring consistency and an equal level playing field to candidates who apply for public sector job advertisements and job opportunities whether they be for internal or external applicants.

    So as to be looking forward to a competency-based interview, you have to first complete a competency-based application form (well most of the time, as private sector organisations do interview people using a competency-based approach after they apply using their CV).

    At the core of a competency-based application form are competencies, where the applicant is requested to write an example or examples that meet the criteria of the competency-based explanation.

    Below are five things that will help you complete the competency section in any competency-based application form:

    1.  Study the job description
    2.  Study competency explanation/criteria
    3.  Give the competency example a title
    4.  Give the example a structure
    5.  Choose examples from the past 5-7 years of employment

    Study the job description

    The Job Description is your first go-to document. Use words/statements from it, as you write your competency-based example. Look at the key skills, strengths and knowledge section. These can be usually linked to the competencies in the competency-based application form.


    Study competency explanation/criteria

    Study the explanation of each competency, underline keywords/statements and address these in your examples. Competency-based Interviewers can ask you questions around these and will expect, what we call ‘mini-examples’ to these when it comes to interview.


    Give the competency example a title

    For each example that you write against the competency title and the competency criteria, consider giving each example a title. The title should be captivating, interesting and eye-catching and want the competency-based interviewer(s) to want to read more. It will also give them confidence before they meet you around your ability to do the job and carry out its main tasks and duties.


    Give the example a structure

    There are many approaches and recommendations when it comes to writing and structuring your competency-based examples i.e., STAR, TSTARLI, TSTARLIS and ABC. Sometimes the hiring department or organisation give you a preferred structure to follow, which you must do to the letter of the law.


    Choose examples from the past 5-7 years of employment

    Examples that you choose to write for each competency should be from current or previous employment and preferably from the past 5-7 years. New and fresh is always good for you and the competency-based interviewers for many obvious reasons. Going back beyond seven years is really too far back where a lot of change would have happened between then and now.


    Put the time and effort into your competency-based application form and leave the competency-based interview having put in a great performance…





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