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“How do I answer competency-based questions correctly?”

Katie_Allen_thumbKatie Allen says:

"Prospective employers use competency-based questioning to uncover how the person in from of them has reacted and performed in various situations. This reveals personality traits and gives the interviewer a deeper understanding of how the candidate may act if employed in their organisation.

For example your interviewer may ask you “Please describe a time when you have failed to meet a deadline”

The interviewer will be looking to establish how you organise and manage your time in high pressured or difficult situations and the reasoning behind why you were unsuccessful in reaching your deadline.

Candidates should always detail specific answers, which are detailed, thought out and clear. Justifying why they failed to meet the deadline without making excuses. For example a good answer would explain the missed deadline whilst also providing examples of personal competencies and skills that are positive.

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For example a good candidate would answer “In a previous role I failed to complete a financial report on time for my manager. I wanted the report to be detailed and comprehensive but unfortunately our accounts team hadn’t processed the figures that I needed. As the report was a final year-end document that would be reviewed at the board meeting I wanted the document to be comprehensive, correct and detailed. To ensure that my manager was not left without the required information I contacted them and discussed a new timeframe that suited everyone involved. I feel that although I did not meet my deadline that the situation was handled in the most effective way possible and the report was much more informative than it would have been had I not negotiated an extended timeframe”


1. Always give a wide variety of answers that are related to your business, personal or educational experiences.
2. Never fabricate your answers; the person interviewing you will be able to tell.
3. Make a list of your key competencies and think of examples for each
4. Always prepare and think about good examples to common competency based questions, it is a good idea to rehearse these with somebody at home or your consultant
5. Always present yourself in an enthusiastic and flexible manner

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