REGISTER A VACANCY                          SEARCH FOR JOBS                                                     REGISTER AS A CANDIDATE


Ever more frequently employers are using competency-based interview techniques. These can be rather uncomfortable if you’ve neither experienced them before nor had the chance to prepare appropriately.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you prepare for at least some of the questions you’re likely to encounter.

Competency based questions will ask you to explain situations where you have demonstrated the required competencies for the role, you can usually identify these in the person specification or job description.  You may find that you do not always have an example from your job history to give as an example to illustrate a competency.  If this is the case it is generally acceptable to choose an example from your life outside of work.  Extra curricula activities and positions of responsibility in the community can generate some really good examples.  We would recommend however, you run them past a professional colleague or recruiter to check their appropriateness before committing to use them.

When preparing your examples try the STAR method. This will give your answers structure and ensure you articulate not only your example but your impact. 

There are many resources online about the STAR method you can use.

What STAR stands for:

  • Situation - the situation you had to deal with
  • Task - the task you were given 
  • Action - the action you took
  • Result - what happened as a result of your action and what you learned from the experience


Example question:

‘Can you give me an example of when you’ve shown you can deal with challenging stakeholders?’

It can be very hard to articulate an appropriate example of where you have demonstrated a required competency in a relevant context if you haven’t had a chance to think about it before the interview.  We recommend you follow the steps below to help prepare.

  • Work through the competencies listed in the person specification or job description and have a think about some good examples of where you’ve demonstrated each competency.
  • Make some notes to take to the interview outlining to yourself specific examples of how you have addressed each competency the job role is asking for. It is really important to have something to prompt you if you get nervous or caught off guard.
  • Go through your examples with someone who understands the context of the role you are applying for, that you also trust to give you honest feedback on the relevance of your examples.
  • Remember the interviewer isn’t just looking to tick a box, you must articulate specifically how you personally showed the competency they are asking for and made a tangible difference to a situation.
  • When answering this type of question in an interview it’s important to show you have the ability to stay on topic and address the competency the interviewer has asked for.
  • Remember your examples don’t all have to be of when everything went right for you, this is the real world after all. Interviewers will appreciate some realistic real world examples that demonstrate evidence of you learning through the experience.

This is a really useful process to help you frame your abilities in your own mind as well as feel prepared for potential questions from the interviewer.

There are lots of resources to support your preparation for a competency based interview, please contact us if you would like further support in this area.


People hire people they want to work with, usually an interviewer is looking for someone as passionate about their profession as they are.

You can bring your passion alive for an interviewer with thorough preparation and giving serious thought to how you will articulate your story before you attend an interview.

Have a think about your story and why you are excited about the opportunity you are interviewing for. Keep in mind you don’t want to give the interviewers the impression their opportunity is a stepping stone or stop gap, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, if they can see your heart isn’t in it, they will hire someone else.

Employers want to hear ‘why you want to work for them’ not that you have had enough of your current job. Keep the conversation to what you enjoy about your current or former role and then talk about what excites you about the role you are applying for. Make some notes on this in case you get stuck on the day, have some bullet points to refer to.

Before you attend, try to answer questions such as:

  • Why did you choose your line of work?
  • How have your career aspirations changed over time?
  • Why have you been successful in your current role? (give examples of tangible personal achievements that have made a positive impact on your organisation)
  • How is your success measured in your current job role?
  • Why do you want to move on from your current job role?
  • Why do you want to work here?

In the digital age, the explosion of online information that is readily available has changed the game for interviews. Most organisations and even individuals make it very easy to do some research on them before you attend an interview, it is expected, and the first step in showing commitment to an opportunity.

The thoughts above are not exhaustive and there are many great resources and ideas out there to use to aid your preparation for a great interview.  If you would like further assistance here please do not hesitate to contact us.


One of the most frustrating ways to struggle in an interview after initially having a great conversation is to have no credible questions for the interviewer.

Well researched and thought out questions help you come across as well prepared, interested and show you’ve given proper consideration to the job role on offer. Keep in mind if you prepare a list of only two or three questions the interviewer may answer those before you have a chance to ask them, so have a longer list with some back up questions to ensure you have something intelligent to discuss.

It’s always good to have questions about the job description and company, however more personal questions can really help make it a human conversation where the interviewer opens up about their aspirations, see below for an example (always amend these into your own words so that it feels natural):

(ask something that showed you took the time to look up the people you are meeting.) “I noticed on LinkedIn you have been here x years, how has it changed?” OR “I notice you recently joined from ‘company xxx’ what made you join?”

  • What makes someone successful at ‘xxx company’?
  • What’s the team like?
  • What keeps you at ‘xxx company’?

In addition to personal questions, have a think about the responsibilities of the person you are meeting.

Clearly you wouldn’t want to ask about complex details on their financial statement if that is completely removed from the interviewer’s day to day job. Equally you also want to be sure if you are asking about anything negative about the firm you’ve come across in your research you do it sensitively, you don’t want the interviewer to become defensive or feel threatened.

If an interviewer declines to answer a question it could be sensitive information they cannot answer, so know when to back off. However, you’ll want to have some relevant questions that show you’ve researched the organisation.

Below are some hypothetical questions illustrating what could be asked, when it comes down to your interview these questions should be based on your research of the company:

  • I noticed during my research the company recently re structured department x, how has that impacted your world?
  • Since the merger with xxx what was has it been like with the new organisation?

Or even more general discussion points such as:

  • I noticed a number of announcements in the news about the organisation winning business with companies like xxx and xxx, it must be very exciting times.

Lastly ensure you have a notepad to record anything mentioned during the discussion you want to ask about later in the interview.

Again, the thoughts above are not exhaustive and there are many great resources and ideas available to use to aid your preparation for a great interview.  If you would like more assistance in this area please do not hesitate to contact us.

Preparing for video interviews

Ready to find your next big challenge? Let's Go!
Cookies on this website
We to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you wish you can restrict or block cookies by changing your browser setting. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.