Competency Based Questions

Competency or “structured” interviews are based around questions that help an employer learn more about your knowledge, skills and attitude.  They are very often the stereotypical questions that we think of when we recall attending a professional interview.  

One of the most important aspects of a successful competency interview is the ability to support your answers with examples, therefore preparation is key.

In thinking about how to answer a competency question, the four-step STAR approach will help you to successfully structure your answers:


  • Situation: Describe the situation, setting the context for the interviewer. Be concise and only give information relevant to the question;

  • Task: explain what was required of you;

  • Action: explain what you actually did in order to complete the task, how you did it, and why.  This is your opportunity to give evidence of the knowledge, skill or attitude that the interviewer is wishing to assess;

  • Result: explain what happened and what you learned from the situation. This is a great chance to highlight additional skills.


Competencies and Practice Questions:


Tell us about the biggest change that you have had to deal with. How did you cope with it?


How do you ensure compliance with policies in your area of responsibility?


Describe a time when you had to win someone over, who was reluctant or unresponsive.

Describe a situation where you had to deal with an angry customer or client.

What positive and negative feedback have you received about your writing skills? Give an example where one of your reports was criticised

Conflict Management

Tell us about a time when you felt that conflict or differences were a positive driving force in your organisation. How did handle the conflict to optimise its benefit?

Creativity and Innovation

Tell us about a time when you had to convince a senior colleague that change was necessary. What made you think that your new approach would be better suited?


Give me an example of when you had to make a difficult decision that impacted others


How do you cope with having to go away from the office for long periods of time (i.e. holidays). Explain how you would delegate responsibilities based on your current situation.


Describe a situation where you started off thinking that your approach was the best, but needed to alter your course during the implementation.


Give us an example of a decision that you sought senior support in order to make


Describe a situation where you needed to influence different stakeholders who had different agendas. What approaches or strategies did you use?


Give us an example of when you were asked by a senior colleague to do something that you were not happy with.  How did you manage the situation?


Describe a project or situation where you had to use different leadership styles to reach your goal.

Organisational Awareness

Describe a project where you needed to involve input from other departments. How did you identify that need and how did you ensure buy-in from the appropriate leaders and managers?

Resilience and Tenacity

What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career. How did you overcome it?

Risk Taking

Give us an example of when you made a risk - based decision

Team work

Give us an example of when you worked as part of a team to deliver a project

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