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How to prepare for competency-based questions

For many businesses, cultural fit is just as important as experience, skills and qualifications. As a result, HR professionals are introducing more competency-based questions into their interview process.

For many businesses, cultural fit is just as important as experience, skills and qualifications. As a result, HR professionals are introducing more competency-based questions into their interview process.

With the New Year proving to be such a key time for job-seekers and others considering their next career move, I thought I’d share my views on competency-based questions and provide some advice on how to prepare for them.  

In addition to the usual array of questions you can expect in relation to your CV, employers and their HR teams are increasingly interested in your responses to competency-based questions, which many candidates find quite challenging.

These questions are designed to provide more of an insight into you as an individual. Typically, they ask you to describe scenarios which will give prospective employers a better understanding of how you think and react to people or events, particularly in busy or stressful situations.

What do competency-based questions demonstrate? 

Competency-based questions are all about assessing your softer skills, such as listening, managing people, complying with procedures, team working, building client relationships, judgement, and dealing with pressure.

Questions vary enormously according to the sector and type of role you are applying for and how much responsibility you are likely to have.

How to prepare

It’s essential that you try to plan for competency-based questions even though there is no way of knowing exactly what they will be. The best approach is to come up with a range of likely scenarios and practice answering them. It’s always good to do this out loud as the way you think is different to the way you speak and it’s crucial to articulate your responses well. You may even like to ask a close friend or family member to throw a couple of questions at you.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

1. Tell us about the biggest change you’ve had to make. How did you communicate it?
2. What’s the greatest mistake you’ve ever made? How did you deal with it?
3. Describe how you ensure you comply with company policies and procedures
4. How do you prepare for an important meeting?
5. Describe a situation where you had to deal with an angry customer?
6. What would you do if someone in your team wasn’t pulling their weight?

The range of possible questions is endless but if you think through the most likely scenarios and prepare carefully, you should be able to apply your answers to most.

Speak to us:

Our role is to match the right people with the right businesses. We place talented people at all levels in a wide range of permanent and temporary roles within PA and Administration, HR, Marketing and Finance. If you’d like to speak to us about your next move, or you’d like further examples of competency-based questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact me on kate@allen-associates.co.uk

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