Preparing for a Competency-Based Interview

What should I expect during a “competency-based” interview?

Competency-based interviews are based on the concept that an applicant’s past experiences can help interviewers understand whether the applicant possesses the knowledge, skills, and attitudes indicating they are well-suited to a position. WCSO leadership has identified a number of competencies, or qualities, that are needed to be successful in this position, and the organization. Typically, each interview question corresponds to a single competency. Competency-based questions will often ask you to tell a story, asking questions like “Tell me about a time when…” you faced a particular situation or challenge.

How can I prepare for a competency-based interview?

In advance of your scheduled interview, think about examples from your past experiences (work, school, family, etc.) when you faced certain situations and how you responded. Do a Google search for “competency-based questions,” then think about and practice your answers. If possible, review the list of competencies in advance of the interview, and think of examples that might relate to each competency. Your examples don’t necessarily need to relate to the position. Instead, focus on sharing examples that show what kind of person you are, and how you respond to situations.

What makes a strong response to a competency-based question? 

  • Focus on the competency. The competency template is like a “guide” to a successful interview, so be sure to share examples that show your strengths in each competency.
  • Take your time to respond; if you can’t think of a specific example right away, take a few seconds to think about your response.
  • Be as clear and specific as you can in your response. Be prepared to explain jargon or acronyms to the interviewers so they understand your response.
  • Not a natural storyteller? Try the STAR method of answering interview questions: describe the Situation, the Task you had to complete, the Action you took, and the Result. 
  • Everyone has gotten nervous before an important interview, but just try to relax and be yourself. The interview should feel like a conversation, an opportunity for the interviewers to understand you as a person, and learn how you might “fit” into the position - and WCSO as a whole.

In interviews, I try not to brag or talk a lot about myself. How can I give a quality response without coming off the wrong way?

Humility is an important trait. However, a strong CBI response is not about bragging. It truly is taking the time to share who you are through describing actions you have taken and decisions you have made in your life. Think about it this way: How can a potential employer know if you would be well suited to a position unless they start to understand what kind of person you are?