Competency interviews function as a way for businesses to create a standardised interview process for candidates.

In the eyes of a business, this can make the hiring process more consistent and fair. Competency interviews also give candidates an opportunity to drill down into more detail on their skills and abilities and how they would handle certain situations.

Preparing for a competency interview.

A competency interview usually gauges whether an applicant has the relevant skills and experience to function successfully in the role they have applied for. Additionally, while a traditional interview might evolve fluidly as the dialogue between interviewer and applicant progresses, a competency interview will stick largely to a stock set of questions.

This does mean, however, that you'll be likely to hit on the areas the interviewers will assess by preparing ahead of time. As competency interviews analyse your experience and skill, work out potential questions and how your previous experiences directly or indirectly correlate with the position you're interviewing for. For example: If you're going for an internal audit role the job spec may ask for someone with superb project management and communication skills. In your prep, you need to think of as many examples as you can of where you have demonstrated these attributes and how you've done so.

Reasons for a competency interview.

Many businesses enact competency-based interviews to avoid the possibility of awarding jobs to candidates simply based on the interviewer's personal feelings about the applicant. A competency interview puts applicants at a level playing field and promotes hiring based on actual skill levels rather than an interviewers' gut reaction, which can be of benefit to some job seekers.

However, candidates should be advised that competency interviews may not offer them as much chance to interact with those conducting the interview. So, applicants will need to impart their personality into their answers to the stock questions to give a sense of self in a competency interview. You can achieve this by also giving some examples from your personal interests.

Competency-based interview questions and how to tackle them.

These questions require a different approach and often focus on your in-built skills rather than the skills you've been taught. The basic premise of these questions is to get an idea of evidence that you hold a certain capability or have dealt with certain key situations.

Each job role will require specific and different competencies and below you will find a list of general competencies that crop up most often in interviews. We advise that you check the job specification to find out specifically what type of competencies you could be questioned on.

General competencies.

Leadership ability, commercial awareness, business acumen, entrepreneurial, drive, emotional intelligence, reliability, hard-working, motivated, communication, adaptability, creativity and innovation, conflict management, decisiveness, delegation, independent thinking, flexibility, ability to influence and persuade, resilience and tenacity and team working.

How to prepare for and answer competency-based interview questions.

Preparation is key to these questions. You will probably need to think of and prepare examples for your work or personal history that you can talk about. It is often useful to think about key projects you have worked on or key events in life that will allow you to demonstrate a variety of competencies, then you don’t have to prepare numerous different examples.

Do not make these up - Employers will often ask lots of probing questions so it will be impossible for you to keep answering honestly if you have made up the situation in the first place!