Competency Based Interviews

October 23, 2014

Competency-based interview questions are widely used when interviewing. The type of competencies against which you will be assessed also depends on the actual post and the company who is interviewing you. For example, some companies view leadership as a competency on its own whilst others prefer to split leadership between a wide range of components (creativity, flexibility, strategic thinking, vision, etc).Identify the competencies for the job you have applied to from the job description and the company’s values and mission statement.

Examples from the job description could be:

  • Negotiation and influencing skills
  • Problem solving and analytical approach

Compentencies within the HR Discipline

Within the HR sector, Competency Based Interviewing is standard so expect technical (for example a good working knowledge of HR policy and legislation), behavioral and professional competency based questions in your interview.

These will typically explore the core competencies regarded as essential in HR discipline such as Communication and interpersonal skills:

  • Planning and Organisation
  • Problem Solving and decision making
  • Team Work
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Consultation
  • Conflict management and pressure

How to prepare for these questions?

  • Look at the job and person spec
  • Plan which criteria you feel could be measured in the job interview
  • Select from this list of example competency based questions the ones that you feel enable you to evidence the key skills and criteria required. (We suggest 5 or 6)

Examples of CBI questions:

Tell me about a time when you were specifically able to change someone’s point of view.

Tell me about a time when you were specifically asked to do something you disagreed with.

Tell me about a time when you were successful in getting crucial information from another person.

Tell me about a time when someone misunderstood what you were attempting to communicate to


What kinds of people do you enjoy working with?

Tell me about the last time you had a disagreement with someone.

What skills and personal qualities have you contributed to the teams you have been part of?

Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was criticised.

Tell me about a time when you felt under pressure.

Tell me about a major problem you have encountered and how you dealt with it?

Tell me about a time when you acted over and above the expectations of your role.

What are the three most important events in your career to date?

How would you motivate an employee who was performing poorly?

What significant problems have you faced in the last year?

What is the toughest decision you have had to make while at your present company?

Tell me about a time when you bent the rules. When is it okay to do so?

If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for?

What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?

What do you feel qualifies you for this position?

What type of leadership style do you adopt?

How would those you have led describe you?

Explain a mistake you have made in delegating- what were the consequences?

In what instance would you delegate a task?

Give an example of an instance when you have had an argument with someone at work? What was the


How do you react if your boss asks you to do something which conflicts with your own deadlines?

How would you resolve a dispute?

Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?

What makes a good manager?

Always ask questions at the end of the interview:

Where have other people who have done this position in the past progressed?

• How would you describe the team / culture? / could you tell me a bit about the company culture?