COMPETENCE BASED INTERVIEWING
WHAT IS A COMPETENCE?
A competence is simply a word that is used to describe a group of behaviours which are shown to be effective. They include attitudes, skills and knowledge, demonstrated as behaviours.
WHY ARE THEY USED?
There is a direct relationship between demonstration of competence and our performance at work. Consequently, it makes sense for interviewers to ask candidates about their competencies and see how they ‘match’ the job requirements. Similarly, from the individual’s point of view, they can assess whether the job matches their competencies and whether they are suited to a role.
WHAT IS A COMPETENCE BASED INTERVIEW?
A ‘competence based interview’ is an interview in which each candidate is asked similar questions, designed to obtain information about the match between the candidate’s competencies and those required for the job.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER INTERVIEWS?
In a competence based interview, questions that give information about the key competencies for the job are asked. These questions concentrate on the most important parts of an individual’s past experience, focusing on the behaviours that were demonstrated. The responses will then allow the interviewer to ‘match’ the individual to the job, based purely on what is necessary to be successful in the role.
SO WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING THE INTERVIEW?
Initially, the interviewer(s) will usually ask you some questions about yourself and your background to get to know you better. These will be followed up with questions to gain information about the key competencies, often beginning with phrases like
‘Tell me about a time when ……’
‘Describe an occasion when …..’
‘When has it been important to …….’
This may feel strange at first, not least because it appears rather formal as an approach, and the interviewer will be taking notes of all the evidence for each of the competencies from your responses to the questions.
Remember that the interviewer is interested in finding out about you and what you have achieved, not about your team, project or manager’s achievements. So, remember to talk about the part you played in the team’s achievements, your contribution to the project’s deliverables and how you have supported your manager and the business through the achievement of your objectives.
During the interview, remember that you should try to answer the questions as specifically as you can. If the interviewer stops you from expanding on a particular point, don’t let this put you off. The interviewer must ensure that you have sufficient opportunity to discuss the key competencies they are interviewing for. They may steer you back onto areas where you describe your competencies in more detail.
There will be an opportunity at the end of the interview for you to add any information that you think is relevant, but has not been covered during the interview. This is also the point at which you should ask any outstanding questions you have about the job.
AND AFTER THE INTERVIEW?
The interviewer will review the notes taken during the interview, and make a decision regarding each candidate’s suitability for the role.
In summary then, the Competence Based Interview is being used to improve the objectivity and quality of selection decisions. It makes no additional requirements of you, but you should prepare for the interview in a slightly different way, as outlined above. The benefit of this approach is that it allows each individual interviewed the opportunity to explain how their own competencies and experience match the particular requirements of the job.
Here is a typical interview question plan with one sample question in each section:
A. WARM-UP QUESTION
1) What made you apply for this position?
B. WORK HISTORY
2) What special aspects of your work experience have prepared you for this job?
C. JOB PERFORMANCE
3) Everyone has strengths & weaknesses as workers. What are your strong points for this job?
4) What special aspects of your education or training have prepared you for this job?
E. CAREER GOALS
5) What is your long-term employment or career objective?
F. SELF ASSESSMENT
6) What kind of things do you feel most confident in doing?
7) In your work experience, what have you done that you consider truly creative?
8) Do you consider yourself to be thoughtful, analytical or do you usually make up your mind fast?
Give an example. (Watch time taken to respond)
I. RANGE OF INTERESTS
9) What organizations do you belong to?
10) What is your professional goal?
K. WORK STANDARDS
11) What are your standards of success in your job?
12) In your present job what approach do you take to get your people together to establish a common approach to a problem?
M. ORAL PRESENTATION SKILLS
13) Have you ever done any public or group speaking? Recently? Why? How did it go?
N. WRITTEN COMMUNICATION SKILLS
14) Would you rather write a report or give a verbal report? Why?
15) What was the most important idea or suggestion you received recently from your employees?
What happened as a result?
P. STRESS TOLERANCE
16) Do you feel pressure in your job? Tell me about it.
Q. STABILITY & MATURITY
17) Describe your most significant success & failure in the last two years.
R. INTEREST IN SELF DEVELOPMENT
18) What has been the most important person or event in your own self development?