Competency questions follow a fairly structured format.
- ‘Please describe a time where you have effectively managed a team’
- ‘Can you give an example of a time where you have worked to a challenging deadline?’
- ‘Provide an example of when you have improved team or organisational standards’
- ‘Please describe when you have had to create and stick to a specific plan’
You answer these types of questions by drawing on your own experiences. You need to think about what you have actually done, not what you might do or what you think would have been the right thing to do! Your responses to these types of questions are likely to provide a more reliable picture of who you are, what is important to you in the way that you work and how you are likely to behave in the future.
You can answer competency based questions using this structure:
What the Situation was, in brief
What the Task was
What Action you took
What was the Result
This is known as the ‘STAR’ technique, which is also really handy to bear in mind for competency based or behavioural interviews.
An alternative is to use the simplified structure:
- Focus on the detail of the actions you took, rather than spending too much of your word allocation setting the scene. It is your personal role and behaviour which the markers will be most interested in.
- Try not to get drawn into describing tasks in terms of ‘we’. While it is appreciated that lots of endeavours are a team effort, you need to get into the habit of highlighting what you were personally responsible for.
- Describe outcomes and whether objectives were met. If there were wider impacts, cover those as well.
- Don’t try to over-complicate with fussy language. Write as you speak, more or less. No one ever complains that sentences are too simple to understand!
- Keep it concise and relevant; avoid stating the obvious or repeating facts.
- Ask someone else to read your example to make sure it is clear what you did and how you did it.
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