Competency Interview Questions

Reach a more objective hiring decision with these sample competency-based questions.

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Why competency-based interview questions are everything

These questions will challenge candidates to draw from real-life experience, and will help you better evaluate key candidate skills. 

Competency-based interview questions will draw out your candidates skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, adaptability and risk-taking. 

Pretty cool, right? 

With these Qs you’ll go beyond the resume and gauge their way of thinking and their approach to role-specific problems. Plus you’ll pinpoint candidates with the best creative solutions. For entry-level positions, you’ll identify eager-to-learn candidates, even if they lack experience.

Competency-based interview questions can also help you avoid bias by getting different eyes on the prize. Get your team involved to note strong/weak points for each candidate, prioritize key criteria and make an objective decision. Here’s a list of high-value competency-based Qs to find your next rockstar employee:

Competency-based interview questions

  • Describe a time you went the extra mile for your job. What happened?
  • What was the best training course you’ve attended? How did it boost your work?
  • What’s the most significant project you’ve worked on? How did you manage it, from start to finish?
  • Have you boosted revenue at companies you’ve worked for? How?
  • Have you had experience driving positive change? How did you do it?
  • Have you ever helped a manager with a problem they couldn’t solve? What did you do?

How to ace competency interview questions

  • Be prepared: Figure out the core competencies that align with your company, and with the role. These are the things you need to look for from your candidate. 
  • Consult a hiring manager: For more technical interview questions, check in with the people who’ll be working with your candidate. What are they looking for? 
  • Use these questions during screening: You can use these in more than one stage of the hiring process. Figure out the skills essential for the role and ask relevant questions during screening or in your application form or assignment. 
  • Prepare your candidates: Let candidates know what the process will look like, and the questions you might ask. This way, they’ll have time to think of some good examples and you’ll have an informative discussion.
  • Ask follow-up questions: Make sure you get sincere answers from your candidates by asking them to give you quantitative results or further details.

Candidates to avoid

  • Quick, generic answers: If a candidate can’t describe specific situations, they’re probably trying to avoid answering the question.
  • Contradictory answers: Avoid candidates who say they’re organized and also describe situations where they’ve been rushed for time. Instead, look for candidates who show steady behavior. 
  • Self-centered answers: Arrogance ain’t pretty. Look for candidates who give credit to external factors (e.g. managers, team or company culture) as they may have issues collaborating with others.

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