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The new interview style

Older style interviews, the ones that you’ve probably had in the past, will ask you things about why you want the job, what your strengths are, what you can tell them about your work history.
They aren’t very effective.

A new type of interview has been developed which is much better at getting you to provide information which will give your interviewers a more accurate picture of how well you will do the job. More and more companies are using them.

So what are they?

Competency based/ behavioural or structured interviews

They’re known as competency based or behavioural interviews (different name for the same thing) although to be fair your invite will probably just reference a good old fashioned ‘interview’. There might be some clues about the style of questioning which will be used in the information which you get sent out with your invite so look out for those. It may be that they tell you what sort of interview to expect; they may even include the competencies that the organisation prioritises.

Here is an interesting article about how Google figured out they were the best tool to use for hiring:

Google reveals that its near impossible interview brainteasers were a ‘waste of time’ for hiring

Rather than questions asking what you might do in a hypothetical situation e.g. ‘what would you do if you caught a colleague cutting corners?’ this type of interview will ask you to describe actions or decisions you have taken in the past. So the phrasing would be ‘can you think of a time when you noticed a colleague or friend cutting corners? What did you do?’

When you are asked a competency question, try not to answer like this:
‘In that situation I would probably want to make sure I had…’
(This is hypothetical and doesn’t show what you actually have done)

Or like this:
‘I think it’s really important to…’
(This is opinion based, and again doesn’t show evidence of what you have actually done in the past)

Answer in a way which will provide evidence of how effectively you work and behave e.g. ‘the action I took was….this was because….the outcome was…..’

The change in wording makes a big difference whatever side of the interview panel you are sitting on.

If you are asked what you might do it can turn into an exercise in you trying to guess what the interviewers want to hear. It can have little to do with your actual skills or aptitudes.

If you are asked your opinion it can lead to subjectivity in the assessment i.e. there is a danger of not being rated as highly if your opinion does not match your interviewers, which can make the whole process very subjective and unreliable (i.e. it depends who is on the panel as to how well you do).

Competency or behavioural questions offer a more reliable way of finding out how you usually behave and what your attitudes are, which are a better indicator of future job performance.

What makes this sort of questioning so effective is that it gets to the bottom of how you have actually done things in the past- which gives a pretty good insight into how you are likely to behave in the future.

How you answer will show your interviewers how effectively you tend to deal with problems, communicate your ideas and plans, recognise risks, work with other people…how good you will be at the job.


What have competencies got to do with it?

What have competencies got to do with it?

In this type of interview your performance will be measured against the organisational competencies . If your answers match closely to what the organisation is looking for you are more likely to get the job. A Competency/ Structured/ Behavioural Interview...

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