Competency based interviews are intended to get the best from you, the candidate, whilst also fulfilling the needs of the organisation to get the very best person for the job. There are some easy steps to make the most of yourself and have a much better chance of success.
- Prepare well, but keep it sensible As long as you know the job you are going for, ask for details of what you will be measured against. Ask for a set of competencies. Ask for a job description. This sets you up to succeed, not just because you are better informed, but also because you have asked – which will impress the decision-makers, before you even get there!
- Get Creative Here is the time to use your own experiences to create ‘stories’ which you can use in the actual interview. These ‘stories’ are real scenarios that you have been a part of, which over a period of days and weeks beforehand, you write up. Maybe you will have 20+ initial ideas.
- Leverage! Take the very best scenarios and write them out, bullet points first. Then flesh them out, whilst referring carefully to the competencies you’ve been given. It is amazing how you can ‘tune-in’ your scenario to include many, if not all of the competencies. And if you can’t fit them all in, there will be a use for them – later!
- Practice By reading through your scenarios (and by now you should not have more than six or seven) you will familiarise yourself with the contents, so well, that they will become second nature – even in the scary experience of an interview.
- In the Interview There are some tactics in here too!
- Using your scenarios make just three key points about what you’ve been asked. Make them relevant and the right ‘weight’. Not too long or too short.
- After that, leave space for them to ask more – that’s what they are listening for.
- Say ‘I’ a lot – they want to know what your personal involvement and experience was, not ‘the team’ or ‘they’.
- Have fun – whilst not contrived, smile and make some simple jokes, if you feel comfortable with that – they want to employ happy as well as capable people.
- Can’t answer? That’s fine. Make sure that you reflect on your shortcomings by saying things like, ‘It’s one of the first things I want to develop in my next job – if you did your stuff on your scenarios and your competencies well enough, you will have covered 90% of the bases well and you’ll be forgiven for not being ‘perfect’. If you are really stumped – say so!
- Ask questions – relevant, about their culture, focus on developing you, opportunities – the positive ‘peopley’ things (remember it’s your chance to see if you want to work with them!).
- Also ask about current issues they may be facing – you did do your homework on them, didn’t you?
Keep the whole thing light, even as you leave at the end. Have a conversation in general terms – about anything! Do make sure that you ask them some things that are about them – they will love it if you ask them some open (what, how, when, where, who) general questions about your new job! About something nice in the building or their clothes – take as it comes and do what feels comfortable!
Remember that competencies are there to help you and they provide a guide-map for your competency based interview success!