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Competency-based interview tips

Now is a great time to be looking for a job in IT. According to the recent Tech Nation 2016 report, the UK's digital industries are growing 32% faster than the wider economy. As a result, new jobs are being created at breakneck speed.

However, no matter how good the job market, candidates still have to make a good impression at the interview.

Competency-based interviews are increasingly becoming the norm as employers seek to prove new hires can hit the ground running and add immediate business value to the company.

What is an employer looking for?

Competency-based interview questions allow an employer to find out how you would act in certain situations. Employers use them when they want to look beyond your qualifications, focusing instead on whether you have the specific skills and experience required to carry out the role.

What are the key competencies?

Different employers will be looking for different skills depending on the role and company culture. However, there are key competencies that span many jobs and many industries. These include:
  • Communication
  • Decision-making
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-management
  • Teamwork
How to prepare

There are a number of ways in which you can display the skills and qualities an employer is looking for. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

1. Identify key skills

As part of your interview preparation, you need to pick out the key skills included in the job description. Look out for any of the key competencies listed above and make a note of them. You may also want to look on the company website to understand more about the competencies that are most important to the business.

2. Cross reference with your CV

You will have been asked to interview for a reason – namely that the recruiter has seen evidence of skills on your application that they feel are right for the role. Revisit your application and select one or two examples for each competency. 

3. Prepare examples for each competency

Take the time to identify specific times when you have used each competency in a particular situation. A good way to structure these examples is using the STAR model, describing the situation, the required task, the action you took, and the end result. The interviewer may also want to find out what you learned from your experience or how you would have done things differently, so be sure to analyse the situation in depth.

4. Use a range of examples

Remember that your examples don’t have to be work-based, they could also be instances when you were at school or university or from your day-to-day life. As long as they demonstrate your ability to act or react in a certain way, they’re good to go.

5. Stick to the truth

However tempting it is to add a few embellishments to your examples, it may prove hard to give a believable answer if the interviewer wants you to elaborate. It’s always best to stick to the truth.

6. Practice makes perfect

Once you have prepared your examples, practise your answers with a friend or seek further advice from your recruitment specialist.

Once you know what to expect, competency-based interviews are no different to any other job interview. That's not to say they are an more - or any less - nerve-wracking, but they do allow you to demonstrate your very best attributes. With the right preparation, there's no reason why the job can't be yours.

Read our related blog: Six ways to smash your Skype interview
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