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What is a Competency-Based Interview? How to Answer Questions with the STAR Technique?

The day when you get your interview call is the first day to feel overwhelmed about interview preparation. Whether it's your first interview or you have gone through a lot of them, you feel the same way. An interview brings a wide variety of questions; some of them are frequently asked while others are Competency based interview questions. Those who are already part of many interviews won't have to prepare for common interview questions like What are your strengths?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Etc. They need simple answers. However, a competency based interview is a real deal. You need to be well-prepared for this kind of interview. There is no need to fret more because I will tell you what is Competency based interview, what are common Competency interview questions and answers, and how to create their best answers through STAR technique. Let's unlock details of these common questions one by one.

What is a Competency-Based Interview?

It would help if you got an understanding of Competency, which is skill, talent, and knowledge. A recruiter looks into every candidate's skills, talents, and knowledge in a Competency based interview. He asks some questions about a candidate's past experience in which he makes the most of his skills and knowledge to handle a challenging situation.

According to expert recruiters, a candidate's past work experience offers them a chance to understand how he will work for a company in the future. Job nature remains the same in every company, and therefore, what a person experiences as a customer service expert in one company will also experience another company.

Why Recruiters Make Competency Based Questions in an Interview?

Every job brings some challenges and difficult situations for an employee. The way he responds and acts in those situation depicts his behavior. The purpose of a Competency-based interview is to know how talented and skillful an employee is. A hiring manager asks an interview question in which he will let his candidate open up about his past work experience and challenges. The employer wants to know what kind of challenge a candidate faced in the past and how he responded to that challenge. He is interested to know all about the past performance of a potential candidate.

What are the benefits of Competency-Based Interview Questions for Employers?

Here are three benefits an employer can attain from this kind of interview.

Finding the Right Candidate for Job

Every employer gets tons of job applications. However, every potential candidate isn't the right one. There is a score based system for assessing every candidate. They ask questions and evaluate candidates. Through this system, they can select the right candidate for a job position. As there is a scoring system in place, every candidate gets an equal opportunity. Employers go with this interview because they want to offer a fair chance to every applicant.

Testing Skills and Talent

Competency interview questions allow employers to test the skills and talent of all candidates. Many candidates can quickly answer common interview questions. They prepare it well, so they promptly answer it. However, they don't know what competency interview question is coming their way; they are not fully ready for it. Answering such a question isn't an easy task for everyone.

Choosing a Candidate with Essential Skills

Every job requires a specific talent and skill set. Employers are looking for a candidate who can blend well with existing employees of a company and also one who can handle this job better than others. They ask a potential candidate to recall a specific task and situation where they work with a team or handle a challenge quite well.

Common Competency Based Interview Questions and Answers

You have got an idea about what is a Competency-based interview and why employers ask such questions. Now you would have to know all about common interview questions and their example answers.

Customer Service Interview Question

How do you react to negative customer feedback? Tell me a time when you completely understood the customer's needs? Describe a situation where you handle a demanding customer? What's your strategy to deal with an angry customer? Can you recall a time when you acted proactively to provide a solution to a customer's problem?

How to Answer?

Understand what an employer wants to know about you through such questions. Well, he wants to look into your planning skills and external awareness skills. Therefore, design your answer in a way that describes that you are a good planner. You can understand customer's needs and make sure that you can deliver the best quality service. Once you know what an employer wants from you, it would be easier to find an answer. I'm going to describe the STAR technique later. You need to create a solution to every Competency-based interview question through this effective method.

Communication Skills-Based Interview Question

Every employer is looking for an employee who has good communication skills. So, he will ask some questions whose purpose is to understand how good you are at verbal or written communication. Competency-based interview questions examples Tell us a time when your letter influenced stakeholders to make the right decision? Describe a situation where you calm down an angry supplier? Tell us a time when you made a big difference through your communication skills? Can you recall a day where you failed to communicate appropriately? How do you describe complex tasks to your teammates? What do employers want to know? Through the questions mentioned above, employers want to look into your written, verbal, and listening skills. He wants to know how ell you handle other people around you. Whether you are a good listener or not? Do you have influencing or convincing power?

Project Management Skills-Based Interview Questions

Every job involves some sort of project, and an employer would always want to know how well you manage a project. He will ask you to follow questions: Tell us a time when you failed to deliver a project on time. How did you handle two projects that needed to be delivered at the same time? What strategy do you use to meet monthly sales targets?

What is the employer looking for?

An employer wants to know how well you manage a project. Do you deliver on time? If you failed on a project, how did you change your strategy to deliver the next project on time? The focus of such a Competency based interview is totally on your time and project management skills.

Leadership Competency Based Interview Questions

Here are some examples:

What big decision do you take in your work life?

Did you ever regret a decision for your team?

Do you mind accepting your work mistake? What did you feel while terminating your team member?

Was it hard to fire an employee?

Check Some other behavior questions about Leadership and Customer service

What is the employer looking for?


Through such questions, he wants to know how good your leadership skills are:

Can you make a right decision in rough times?

Can you keep your emotions and personal life separate from professionals?

Do you have all it takes to do what is right for a company?

It would help if you showed him that you could make the right decision. If he asks about a wrong decision, tell him you made one wrong and then learned a lesson from it, and now you know how to make the right one. As a manager, your job is to manage the company department, and for this, you don't mind terminating or firing a person who is not doing his job well. Showcase your employer that you can make decisions based on analysis, evaluation, and judgment.

Interpersonal Skills Competency based Interview Questions

A person needs to work with colleagues, top management, lower management, customers, and other stakeholders in a company. It's essential to work with a person who is good at handling a variety of people. Every recruiter would add some questions through which they try to identify how well you behave.

Competency interview questions examples are as below:

How can you influence your senior management?

How do you delegate work to your team?

Or are you a good-to-go kind of person with people around you or not?

What's your best team management strategy?

Do you like to collaborate with your colleagues?

Describe us a time when you had to put a difficult team on track What is the employer looking for?

He wants to know whether you are a good team player or not. They are looking for one who mixes up in company culture instead of giving every team member or colleague a tough time. Show your down to earth side to the recruiter through the answer to this competency question.

Strategic Thinking Competency Based Interview Questions and Answers

If you apply for a management level position in a company, a recruiter would like to hire a candidate with strategic thinking skills. He would pick a person who can see the Big picture.

Question examples:

Describe a situation when you had to interconnect with other department activities to bring the best results for your employer?

What is the meaning of your current role in the company's objectives?

Tell me a time when you introduced an excellent strategy for company's department.

Can you think of a task where you have to change the strategy to meet the company's objectives

 What employer is looking for in your answer?

They want to know whether you are an excellent strategic thinker or not. They would like to know about how well you know about your company's objective. A recruiter would ask you to highlight a situation where you proactively change a strategy because it won't work or let you meet company's objectives.

STAR Technique

Every employee must know how to use the STAR Technique to create the best answer for competency, situational, or behavioral f

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results.


Let's suppose an employer asks us to tell us when you need to calm down a demanding customer. Now you will create a

SITUATION - Once I had to deal with an angry customer who doesn't like our products.

Next, you will explain the Task - The customer was unhappy as he was looking for a deep discount.

Action- I offered him a membership.

Result: He was happy that I understand his needs and thanked me. See how simple it was to use this technique to answer any competency interview question. You begin by explaining a situation, no matter how good or bad it is. Next, you define the task at hand and what action you took to bring good results. Keep in mind - HAPPY Ending, aka good results, positive results, excellent performance.

EXAMPLE 2 Tell us a time when you failed to deliver a project on time.

Situation: It was the holiday season; the team was busy with home decor and other things.

Task: We had to deliver a project before the holidays.

Action - I asked all team members to come early so we could complete the task on time. Unfortunately, one of my teammates had an accident. He couldn't make it on time as he had to stay in the hospital for two days. Results: We failed to deliver the project on time as it was holiday time. I couldn't find his alternative. However, I explained the situation to my client, and he extended the timeline. I decided to keep in contact with some replacement so that if one employee couldn't make it on time. I would have someone who can come and let us deliver the project on time.

How to Prepare for Competency-Based Interview Questions

When you prepare for an interview, make you prepare yourself for Competency-based interview questions as well. Your preparation should comprise four-step.

Step No.1 Identify Competencies

You need to know what Competency the employer would be interested in. For this purpose, I suggest: Check job ads to know what exactly an employer is looking for. In every ad, they will mention the kinds of skill set. Highlight them. Read job descriptions online to know what are the primary skills related to a job.

Step No.2 Make a list of Competency-based interview questions.

Every Competency has specific interview questions. A recruiter will ask different questions to know more about your communication than to inquire about your leadership skills. I have shared a list of common questions based on each Competency. Use this example as a guide.

Step No.3 Prepare an Answer with STAR Method

It would help if you prepared a story that is relevant to a competency. This story will have a Situation you were into, a task you had to deal with, an action you took, and a result that was good for your company.

Step No.4 Give Answer

As soon as a hiring manager asks a question, tell a story relevant to your questions. Make sure your tone is positive. Don't highlight negative aspects. The focus should be entirely on the results- outcomes and your best performance.

Competency Interview Tips

You have got all the details like what is a competency interview, common competency interview questions, and how to answer them. Now here are some tips that allow you to make an excellent impression to ace your job interview.

Listen Carefully - It happens that a person is so confused during a job interview. However, it would help if you kept your self-confidence intact. Listen carefully. If a question is not exact, ask again. Good listening will help you understand what kind of Competency an employer is interested in, and therefore you can highlight the best and relevant story.

Take Your Time - You don't need to start answering quickly. Do you need some time to think? It's okay, take your time and think about the best possible story for a particular situation. Haste makes waste, so don't start unless you are confident.

Relevancy is a Must-Try to share the most relevant story to the situation and explain your expertise and skills in the best possible manner. Sharing an irrelevant situation or story will be nothing but a joke that you can't afford in your job interview. Don't Sound Rehearsed - You need to share a story in a natural style. It shouldn't look like you have rehearsed its script. No one likes a robotic employee.

Don't Repeat - Keep the answer and story to-the-point and straightforward. Don't repeat the same things over and over. Explain Results with Numbers - You can use numbers and statistics to describe your best performance and results.

STAR Technique: It's an effective method of creating a good story with vital information, so use this technique to answer your Competency-based interview questions.

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