There is no getting around it: Competency-based interview questions can distinguish between good and great candidates. But it only works if you put in the effort to prepare good questions by headhunting firms in NYC.
What precisely is a Competency-Based Interview?
A competency-based interview is a method of asking questions of a candidate you’re considering hiring in a formal, structured manner to obtain a comprehensive answer that provides deep insight.
Interviews based on competencies are also known as behavioral, situational, or structured interviews. They are common in many hiring processes. They are formed in a way to get candidates to provide real-life examples as the basis of their responses.
What distinguishes competency-based interviews from traditional interviews?
Competency-based interviews are more formal than standard or unstructured interviews. They are, however, highly personal as they allow for a variety of responses from the interviewee and provide far deeper insights.
How Should Competency-Based Interview Questions Be Phrased?
The goal of such interviews is to help candidates imagine themselves in situations where they have shown the skills, handled the situation the interviewer is looking for or thought of a logical solution if they have never yet faced such a situation.
The questions like ‘Give me an example of when…,’ ‘Describe how you…,’ ‘Tell me about a time when you…’ ‘What do you do when…,’ or ‘Describe a time when…’ can be asked of the candidate.
Through such questions, you will be able to judge the skills, the candidate’s situation-handling skills, and his character and understand how to fit the candidate for the role.
Why Are They Important for Recruiting Teams?
Competency-based interviews assist interviewers and recruiters in properly evaluating candidates and avoiding potentially costly miss-hires. Asking the same questions makes it simple to compare many candidates and their responses against pre-determined criteria.
They can give interviewers valuable insight into a person’s working style, core competencies, strengths, and weaknesses. They may even be able to predict their future behavior.
Competency-based interview questions can be used very cleverly, which is why candidates frequently struggle to answer them.
The response of the candidate to these simple questions reveals information about other things, such as:
- How they respond under duress.
- Their thought processes.
- Whether they rush ahead, are unprepared, or carefully consider a response.
- Ability to cross-examine things
It is always advantageous to ask questions related to the company or situations that might occur or have occurred in the company to judge the right mindset of the candidate. Candidates do not get a chance to prepare for firm-specific questions. So, it is a win-win situation for both. This demonstrates their ability to think on their feet and may reveal whether they will be a good cultural fit for your organization. Here are some examples:
- Consider an example of how you might use a $500 budget to boost team morale.
- Which of our company’s values most resonates with you? Why?
While not technically competency-based questions, they fit the style and tone of the competency-based approach and allow you to assess a person’s attitude and values.
What Are the Most Common Competency-Based Interview Questions?
The answer to this question is in the interview’s name: competency-based. Most scenarios do not allow you to test an employee’s ability to do the job, so you must answer questions to learn more about their attitudes, behaviors, and competencies!
Typical competency-based interview questions seek to determine whether someone possesses skills that are often difficult to assess, even if they performed well in other assessment tests (such as task-based or psychometric tests).
You could use competency-based interview questions to assess their commercial awareness, conflict resolution, problem-solving abilities, and leadership behaviors.
Some Competency related questions for different skills are as follows–
- Team Leadership: Tell me about when you unexpectedly had to assume a leadership role.
- Management: How do you inspire your team to achieve their objectives?
- Decision-Making: Tell me about a time when you had to make an important decision at work.
- Dispute Resolution: Could you please give me an example of a workplace conflict situation in which you were involved and explain how you handled it?
- Looking at the Bigger Picture: Describe when you worked with people from other departments or contexts to achieve a successful outcome.
- Beginning Change: Tell me about your ability to initiate change and provide an example of how this has resulted in an improvement.
- Relationships at Work: Please give me an example of a working relationship you enjoy and explain why.
- Interpersonal abilities: Describe a situation in which you got people to cooperate.
- Resilience: We’ve had a lot to deal with recently. Tell me about a situation where you learned to be resilient and how it helped you.
- Creativity: Please describe when you had to think outside the box.
- Flexibility: Please describe a situation in which you had to change your approach to a task. What did you do differently this time, and why?
How Do You Assess Candidate Responses?
Many product manager recruitment agencies advise candidates to utilize the STAR format to prepare answers to competency-based interview questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results.
Candidates ideally will answer the question as per their past experiences and use these learnings in the situation you’re asking about, explaining the actions they’ve taken and the results they achieved.
But we must be aware that some candidates lack such past experiences. Such candidates without experience would take a little time to understand the situation and act accordingly.
Candidates must not be pressured, but it’s fine to make suggestions or use your own ‘for example, to help them contextualize their thoughts.
In short, if a soft skill is required for the role, a good answer to a competency-based interview question reveals a lot about the candidate.