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Acing the Competency-Based Interview

Your Guide to Landing the Job

 

The job search ain’t what it used to be. Today, you need more than just a polished resume to stand out from other candidates. Hiring managers are now using video assessments, virtual interviews, and behavioral questions to evaluate candidates’ “competencies”.

But what does that actually mean? And how do you make sure you ace this style of interview? Let’s dig in and find out.

 Why Competencies Matter More Than Ever

Traditional job interviews are notoriously inaccurate at predicting performance. According to Harvard Business Review, they have only a 20% success rate. That means that interviewers who rely on “gut feeling” are wrong 80% of the time and why more companies are switching to competency-based interviews.

These interviews focus on concrete examples of how you’ve handled situations in the past and how transferable they are to  the role you’re interviewing for. The idea is that past behavior predicts future performance.

If you can demonstrate the right competencies, you stand out as a stronger candidate. One who is truly prepared for the day-to-day realities of the position. At the end of the day, the interviewer wants to make sure everyone is set up for success. They want to hire the right person for their team who can do the work properly. And for the candidate, you want to make sure you’re being set up for success.

 Breaking Down the Competency Interview

Competency interviews dive deeper into your potential value. The interviewer asks targeted questions about specific work situations and how you’ve navigated them or how you would navigate them if you encountered it.

Some common questions include:

  • Tell me about a time you had to rapidly learn a new technical skill…what was the situation and what steps did you take? 
  • Walk me through a recent successful project you led. How did you keep team members engaged and aligned?
  • Describe a time when you had to be very strategic or demonstrated critical thinking in your work. What was the thought process and outcome?

 They want clear examples that showcase both your hard skills (like data analysis or coding) and soft skills (like communication, creativity, and problem-solving).

Essentially, they’re looking for a picture of how you’ll handle the realities of the role and add value.

And this data-driven approach seems to be working. LinkedIn’s research predicts these are the most sought-after soft skills for 2024: 

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Adaptability
  4. Emotional intelligence
  5. Time Management
  6. Analytical Thinking
  7. Active Listening
  8. Communication
  9. Problem-Solving
  10. Teamwork

 

 Bring your A-game in these areas, and you’ll be in great shape!

 Rock the Competency Interview in 5 Steps

 With the right preparation, competency interviews can be a huge boost (rather than a hurdle). Here are five tips to shine:

1. Research the Position Details

Closely review the job description and any available info on the company’s website. Make a list of the competencies and skills they mention. These are what they’ll assess.

2. Reflect on Your Stories and Experiences

Spend some time thinking through impactful anecdotes from your past experience that map well to those key competencies. Look at your resume for projects you’ve completed and make sure you can describe challenges you encountered, how you overcame them and what the outcome was. (I literally mean practice saying it out loud. It makes a difference)

3. Use the STAR Method

Structure your stories using the STAR framework. Set the scene, explain the task, describe your actions, and share the tangible results.

 S: Situation: Outline your specific situation, role, and responsibilities.

T: Task: What did you need to accomplish? What were the project’s goals, and which challenges did you have to overcome?

A: Action: What did you do to achieve your goals? How did you align your actions to the requirements of the situation?

R: Result: What was the outcome? How did you know you were successful? What did you learn from the experience?

 

4. Quantify Your Impact  

Include measurable results and key data points whenever possible to demonstrate your value-add. Explaining what you achieved and what you learned from each experience is crucial in a competency-based interview. The more specific you can be when explaining your results, the better your impact on your interviewer.

For example, if the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge in the workplace”, you can respond by outlining a specific problem you faced relevant to the role and business you want to work for.

Then, follow up by saying, “At the end of this project, I had increased the company’s profits by 5% and learned how to improve my leadership abilities through transparent communication.

5. Practice!

Even if you prepare carefully for your competency-based interview and participate in several “mock” interviews before the big day, you’ll likely feel anxious. Around 93% of candidates say they feel nervous before a job interview, so it’s essential to be prepared for anxiety.

Run through mock interviews with mentors and peers until the stories flow smoothly. You can even record yourself answering questions to help you see where you can improve and/or practice reciting responses in front of a mirror. The more polish, the better the impression.

Dress professionally, as this will help to convey a positive image and make you feel more confident.

Remember to focus on active listening during the interview itself, too. Paying attention to what your interviewer says, clarifying their questions (by repeating them back to them), and making eye contact will help you appear confident, professional, and enthusiastic. 

Bring these five tips to your interview prep, and you’ll have the competency boost you need to land the role!

Now go get that dream job!

 

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Written by

Lileah Akiode

919-813-2454

lileah@theblackdiamondagency.com
Lileah Akiode is the Managing Director of The Black Diamond Agency, a recruitment firm dedicated to connecting talented people with rewarding career opportunities. With a strong background in Talent Acquisition across different corporate retailers, Lileah brings a wealth of experience to ensure a seamless and positive candidate experience. In addition to corporate retail, Lileah also experience supporting the Financial Services and IT industries.

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Banish Interview Nerves for Good

Applying for a new role, and going through the recruitment process can be a daunting task for even the most experienced professional.

 

Interview nerves affect most people, but they can make the recruitment process more stressful than it needs to be for you, the candidate.

 

Your next job might be the start of something amazing – so naturally, you will want to impress the hiring manager.

 

If you are preparing for an upcoming interview, we have created this guide to help you boost your confidence to help land you your next role.

 
1. Role Play Interview Practice

We all know that preparation is the key to success – and anyone who has ever had a job interview will have been told to practice their answers beforehand or at least have some specific examples ready to speak to.

 

But very few candidates ever actually go to the lengths of practicing a role-play style interview with someone, and yet doing this can help you significantly.

 

Practicing your answers while you are alone, or even writing down specific answers or themes are great ways to prepare – but nothing beats a real-life run-through beforehand.

 

So, get someone, a friend or a family member, to act as the interviewer and get them to ask role-specific or general interview questions – be prepared for both – and practice giving your answers.

 

You will not know until you rehearse in this way that you might want to add something into one of your answers, or that you need some extra practice when talking about a specific subject.

 
2. Boosting Your Confidence Before the Interview

Immediately before the interview is when candidates are at their most nervous.

So it is during this time that the most crucial confidence-boosting techniques are needed.

 

The following are great simple tips to help you in the hour up to the interview. Find somewhere private, either in your car or a private hallway to take a few minutes to practice the following:

 
  • Picture yourself succeeding – visualization techniques are shown to be effective at helping reduce nerves and focus the mind.

  • Breathing techniques – take slow, deep breaths to help calm any nervous jitters you may be having.

  • Say some positive affirmations to yourself – saying ‘I will succeed’, ‘I deserve this job’ and ‘I am going to be successful in this interview’ will help you foster a positive mindset, which can significantly improve your confidence.

Once you are in the interview, let’s look at how some simple body language techniques can help you relax and be your most confident self.

 
3. Body Language During the Interview

The way you hold yourself will make you feel more confident so that you are able to give a better interview, plus it will also signal to the interviewer that you are relaxed and professional.

 

First impressions count, so smile when you say hello. Try not to perch nervously on the edge of your seat – sit all the way back in your chair, with a straight back, not slouching.

 

When you give your answers, talk with your hands as this will allow you to communicate your ideas more effectively. But also, be careful with the way you use your hands – don’t gesticulate too wildly, and when you are listening rather than talking, try not to fidget or keep touching your hair or your face, which people tend to do when they are nervous.

 

Remember to carry on breathing deeply, and always say yes to a glass of water – you can take a sip to compose yourself before you give your answers, or if you need a moment to pause.

 

Make eye contact with the interviewer, but not too much. And finally – smile during the interview – you want to look like you are happy to be there!

 
4. Be a Great Listener

There will be time during the interview when the interviewer is asking the questions or explaining about the company. During these times, remember to employ excellent listening skills.

 

An interview is about listening as much as it is about talking.

Nod when the interviewer is speaking and always make sure they have finished before you give your answer.

 

The interviewer will be looking for someone who will get along with the rest of the team – so an overconfident candidate who spends the entire interview singing their own praises can be a turn-off.

 

Remember that not every answer you give has to be perfect – but listen to what the interviewer is asking, and you can always ask them to repeat themselves or clarify if you aren’t sure what they meant.

 

Interviewers are human, and they don’t always give perfect interview questions.

 
5. Look to Connect, Not Impress

And finally, a great tip to boost your confidence is to not think about the interview as an interview – but a conversation.

 

Aim to connect with the interview, not to flat-out impress them with everything you say.

 

Building rapport with an interviewer is a great way to be a memorable candidate, and striking a meaningful conversation rather than stressing while trying to appear superhuman will allow you to naturally ease into the interview and will make the whole experience much more enjoyable.

 

Confidence is about being honest and transparent; it is obvious when someone is trying to be somebody they’re not.

 
Finally

Are you preparing for an upcoming interview? Or maybe you’re not quite there yet, and you’re still looking for a new role.

 

If so, we can help. We can help you will all aspects of your new job search, from resume help to arranging interviews, and of course – helping you prepare for your all-important interview.

 

To find out how we can help you in your new job search – get in touch with us at 919-813-2454 or at Info@TheBlackDiamondAgency.com.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
1510

Written by

Lileah Akiode

919-813-2454

lileah@theblackdiamondagency.com
Lileah Akiode is the Managing Director of The Black Diamond Agency, a recruitment firm dedicated to connecting talented people with rewarding career opportunities. With a strong background in Talent Acquisition across different corporate retailers, Lileah brings a wealth of experience to ensure a seamless and positive candidate experience. In addition to corporate retail, Lileah also experience supporting the Financial Services and IT industries.

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