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Investigo. Competency-Based Interviewing Guide . Competency based interviews are used as a way to predict a candidate’s future performance.

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Competency-Based Interviewing Guide

Competency based interviews are used as a way to predict a candidate’s future performance.

You are asked a series of behavioural questions and the interviewer will ask you to describe a situation which demonstrates your abilities that will be integral to the role you’re interviewing for.

The answers to competency based questions are very structured, we recommend the STAR approach when answering these which describes the:


Task required as a result

Action you took

Result of that action

Having a technique for answering questions is good but there is a benefit to having a deeper understanding of what is required of you, along with examples of the questions themselves.

Drawing on our considerable recruitment experience, we have put together a comprehensive list of 16 key competencies, some suggested questions for each, the desired behaviours the interviewer is looking for and the negative indicators they are looking to avoid.



Competency-Based Interviewing: Further Example Questions

  • Selects and uses relevant information to make sound and balanced judgements. Evaluates the risks of
  • alternative options and makes confident decisions in the face of uncertainty or incomplete knowledge.
  • 1. Tell me about a time you took responsibility for making a key decision.
    • What was the decision you made?
    • How did you justify your decision?
  • Sometimes we have to make decisions that are challenged by others. Describe a situation when you made a decision that was challenged.
    • What was your decision?
    • How did the people who were affected react?
    • How did you respond to people who challenged your decision?
  • Give me an example of when you had to work without any guidance.
    • What kinds of decisions did you have to make?
    • How did you cope?
    • What feedback did you receive?
  • Describe a time when you referred an urgent decision upwards?
    • What was the background?
    • Why did you need help?
  • Tell me about a decision you made that involved an element of risk.
    • Why did you need to make the decision?
    • What were the consequences?


  • Has the determination effort and enthusiasm to deliver results. Is energetic, takes initiative, originates action and keeps things moving.
  • 1. Tell me about a time that you worked especially hard.
    • What aspect of the situation motivated you to work hard
    • What elements of the situation did you find de-motivating
    • What was the result of your hard work?
  • 2. Give me an example of when you set yourself a challenging target.
    • Why did you set yourself the target?
    • What made it so challenging?
    • What was the outcome?
  • 3. Give me an example of when you took the initiative and made something happen.
    • How did you progress the idea?
    • How did you gain support for the initiative?
    • What was the impact of your initiatives?
  • 4. Tell me about a time when a project you were working on did not go as planned?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • How did you feel?
    • How did you react?
  • 5. Give me an example of when you did more than was asked of you.
    • What was the situation?
    • What did you do?


  • Is personally well organised and keeps focused on priorities in own and others’ work. Develops and monitors clear and realistic action plans to accomplish given objectives using given resources.
  • 1. Describe a time when you had to organise the implementation of a plan
    • What were the key stages you worked though?
    • How did you ensure the plan was followed?
    • How did this work in practice?
  • 2. Tell me about a time when you were unable to deliver what you promised to deliver.
    • Why did this happen?
    • To what extent were you responsible?
    • What did you do to try and overcome the problem?
  • 3. Tell me about a situation when a number of projects needed your attention
    • What were the projects
    • How did you manage your limited resources?


  • The inclination and ability to challenge the status quo and to generate new ideas and creative approaches which move the business forward.
  • 1. Tell me about a time when you questioned or challenged a way or working?
    • Why did you question it?
    • What did you suggest?
    • To what extent was your recommendation used?
  • 2. Describe a situation when you produced an imaginative solution to a problem at work
    • How did you generate the idea?
    • What feedback did you receive?
  • 3. Tell me about a situation when you initiated a new or better way of doing things?
    • What did you suggest?
    • Which ideas did you put into place?
    • What was the outcome?
  • Sometimes someone else will generate a good idea but it is someone else who promotes it.
  • What ideas have you promoted in this way?
  • 5. Describe a major change or adaptation that you have had to make recently?
    • What made the change challenging
    • How did you feel during the period of change?