If you have been invited to an interview with us, this section will help you prepare.
These guidelines will give you an idea of how to structure your responses so as to best demonstrate your ability to fulfil the requirements of the position you have applied for.
Our interviews are competency/behavioural based. The competencies that will be assessed during your interview are those written on the person specification in the job application pack. Please read the job description and person specification fully before the interview.
What is a Competency?
A competency is a skill, knowledge base, ability or behavioural characteristic that is associated with performance.
There are two basic competencies: technical and behavioural.
Technical competencies are predominately about acquired knowledge and technical abilities/skills.
Behavioural competencies are attitudes and traits that affect how you approach your work, such as communication skills or team-working skills.
What Format does a Competency Interview Take?
We will ask you questions to assess the desired competencies (as stated on the person specification) for the job based on your account of what you did, said, thought or felt in different situations. You may be asked for more than one example.
Example of a competency question:
“Describe a situation in which you provided excellent customer service. What were the circumstances? What were your specific actions? What was the result?”
The interviewers will take notes during the interview and probe for further details when required.
How do I Prepare for a Competency-Based Interview?
The best technique to use when answering competency questions is called ‘STAR’:
- Situation: Open with a brief description of the situation and context of the story (who, what, where, when, how).
- Task: Explain the task you had to complete, highlighting any specific challenges or constraints (e.g. deadlines, costs, other issues).
- Action: Describe the specific actions you took to complete the task. These should highlight desirable traits (e.g. initiative, intelligence, dedication, leadership, understanding, etc.) without you having to explicitly state them.
- Result: Close with the result of your efforts. Include figures to quantify the result if applicable, or perhaps include what you learnt.
There are a few things to note with this response: it’s important to speak in specific rather than general terms, and to quantify your success. It’s also important to keep your answers concise.
You will need to think of one or more strong, specific, example(s) for each identified competency on the person specification.
How to Structure Your Answers
- Always speak in the first person – “I thought/felt/did”.
- Discuss events that have occurred and speak in the past tense.
- Focus on what actually happened.