When it comes to most kinds of interview, including competency based interviews, preparation is key. If you are prepared, then you are less likely to feel pressured and ‘on the spot’ when questions are thrown at you.


You will need to understand the competencies and skills that are most likely to be tested. Sometimes, your interviewer may remain a little vague when asking for competency based evidence, so you will need to make sure that the examples you quote are hitting the target.


If your interviewer asks you for evidence of your communication skills when dealing with external entities, then you will need to quote examples of where you have shown empathy and understanding, and where you have been assertive while remaining pleasant.


This will, however, be different if you are going for a role with a customer service team, than if you are hoping to gain employment with a commercial law firm. In the latter example, you will need to give examples of how you succeeded in explaining something that is complex in terms that the layman can understand.


It’s crucial that you understand the requirements of the role you are applying for, as then you will know how to apply your experiences to answer the question that you have been asked.


Giving examples of a competency is a four step process:

  • Outline the situation in which you found yourself. You are setting the context for the example, so make sure your interviewer understands the picture. Explain what gave you the opportunity to display this particular competency.
  • Next, explain the task that was expected of you. Usually, this is not too difficult and it leads you directly on from setting the situation. If the situation you found yourself in was having to handle a complaint from an irate customer, then the task was obviously to resolve this difficult situation without the matter escalating.
  • The third stage of the process is action. You need to explain to your interviewer what you did and, just as importantly, why you chose to handle the situation or task in that manner. Talk about what you did, personally. Go into detail, as this shows you had a full understanding of the skills and competencies involved.
  • The final stage of the process is the result. This, of course, is what happened. If, in your ‘irate customer’ tale, the customer stormed off in a worse mood than when you first encountered them, then you really ought to have chosen a different example! Explain what happened, and demonstrate knowledge by explaining how it happened, and why it happened. This hints at the successful application of learned knowledge and experience.


Remember it’s crucial to relate what you did, how you did it, and why you did it. This is what your interviewer will be looking for. You need to demonstrate good decision-making, an understanding of the choices you made, and why you made those choices. Simply repeat the process for each individual competency that you are asked to provide evidence for.