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What is difficult about this type of interview?

What is difficult about this type of interview?

It doesn’t matter what you have done, how much experience you have and how suitable you are for the role if you don’t answer the question according to this new format.

It catches a lot of good applicants out because they hear a competency based question e.g. ‘tell us about a time you have made an improvement at work’ and they answer according to the old style of interviewing ‘I think it’s important to make improvements because that’s how the company will get better. The sort of improvements I think are important are…blah blah..’


This won’t get you any points, and at the end of the day that’s what it is about. Most objective and structured interviews are based around some sort of scoring system. If it’s not, it’s basically just a popularity contest to see how well the interviewers think they will get along with you (not very scientific, useful or legally defensible!)

The interviewers decide how well your answers match their criteria. The better the match, the higher the score. The danger is in providing answers which although strong, are not the right fit.

It can be easy to lose focus and waste time giving information which is not relevant. If this happens, you have lost a valuable opportunity to show how suited you are for the role.

Get prepared

If you are prepared, these interviews will be no more difficult than a traditional style one.

If you haven’t prepared, you could find it very difficult to come up with decent examples on the spot. Plus it is much more difficult to lie in this sort of interview. If you are asked a hypothetical question about what you might do in a situation you can wax lyrical about what actions you may consider taking (which may have no bearing on what you would actually do in practice!). But if you are asked what you have done in the past you need to scan through your memories and select something suitable. If you have already done some of this work in advance, and have a few suitable examples already lined up, this is a lot easier than trying to fabricate a situation that isn’t true. Lying takes more effort than remembering, especially under pressure.

So get prepared

Even if you have a list of examples you can draw on in your mind’s eye it isn’t always easy to apply them correctly to the question being asked. That’s why practising in advance is really important.


Example interview questions

Example interview questions

Competency type questions follow a very structured format. You can often spot them because they will start with: ‘Can you describe a time when..’ ‘Can you think of an example when...’ ‘Tell us about an occasion when...’ You would then go on ...

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