A Step-by-Step Guide to Succeeding in Competency-Based Interviews

Gary Robinson

May 17, 2023

A Step-by-Step Guide to Succeeding in Competency-Based Interviews


Are you ready to show the interviewer what you're made of? A competency-based interview is your chance to demonstrate your suitability for a role by providing specific examples of how you've handled real life situations in the past, or how you would approach possible scenarios likely to arise doing the role you are interviewing for.

Questions in a competency-based interview are carefully designed to give the interviewer valuable insights into your potential future performance, making it a highly effective tool for assessing your suitability for ap position.

But how can you shine in a competency-based interview? The key is to demonstrate your effectiveness in a clear and concise manner. That's where the STAR technique comes in - it allows you to structure your answers to showcase your skills and experience…


What is the STAR technique in interviewing?

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action & Result, so by breaking down your responses into these four distinct sections you can provide detailed and specific examples of how you've tackled similar challenges in the past. This not only shows that you're capable of handling the demands of the role, but also gives the interviewer a clear picture of your potential future performance.


Competency based interview question examples

Of course, the exact content of the questions you will face will depend entirely on the role you are interviewing for and the role’s responsibilities involved. Such questions may assess general competencies, or be more specifically linked to a particular aspect of the role.

Competency-based interview questions generally begin with opening phrases such as:

  • Describe a situation where you…
  • Give an example of a time when…
  • Have you ever been…

Some competency-based interview questions will be specific to a particular skill you will need to perform if you are successful in obtaining the role. Example questions could be:

·       Describe a challenging problem you faced in your previous role. What steps did you take to resolve it, and what was the outcome?

·       Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline. What did you do to ensure you met the deadline, and what was the outcome?

·       Describe a time when you had to adapt to a new situation or process in your work. How did you approach the change, and what was the outcome?

Note that competency-based interview questions can be asking about something specific you have done at a previous job, or about how you will do something in the new role. Whichever tense is used by the interviewer, the STAR technique will help you structure a clear and concise answer.

Star technique interview examples

The STAR technique is a great four-step structure you can use for answering competency-based interview questions. It is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Let’s look closer at each step.

1. Situation

First, set the scene and provide any necessary details, including what position you held at the time and the potential implications of your actions. For future tense questions, demonstrate an understanding of the importance of finding a solution.

2. Task

Now explain how you either identified a solution or would go about identifying one, and what was needed or would need to happen to resolve the situation or achieve the goal.

3. Action

Describe the steps taken or that you would take to implement your solution, including anything you did or will do to ensure the tasks were/are carried out as required. Explain your approach to the situation and how each action would be completed.

4. Result

Finish off the STAR technique by summarising what your actions have achieved and the final outcome of the situation. For hypothetical situations, wrap up with the ideal outcome achieved by the steps taken.

Remember, the key to success in a competency-based interview is preparation. Researching the company and the role, and using previous experiences in your career to help you formulate responses to questions, will allow you to approach the interview with confidence and showcase your suitability for the job.

So, take a deep breath, prepare thoroughly, and show the interviewer what you're made of - you've got this!

All our consultants are skilled in coaching candidates ahead of job interviews we put them forward for. So why not register with CAST UK today to find your next step up on the career ladder?