COMPETENCY-BASED Interview Questions and Answers

In this article you will learn how to answer competency-based interview questions. If you have a job interview coming up for any role or any company, make sure you read this article very well because it will help you be the successful candidate. COMPETENCY-BASED Interview Questions and Answers.

This article will cover three things:

  • What competency-based interview questions are.
  • A brilliant, tried and tested structure to use when answering difficult competency based interview questions.
  • Several example competency-based questions and top scoring answers that are going to help you pass your interview.

What are competency-based interview questions?

When a hiring manager creates the person specification and the advert for a particular job, they will usually create a list of competencies that are required to do the job properly.

Competencies are a set of characteristics and skills that are needed in that particular job, and examples of competencies include teamwork problem solving, customer focus, decision making, responsibility, and results driven.

Competency-based interview questions will usually start off with either:

  • Tell me about a time when you…..
  • Describe a situation you’re in where you had to…..
  • Give an example of a time when you…..

You can see that the interview question is asking you to give a specific situation you have previously been in that demonstrates the competency being assessed.

How should you answer competency-based interview questions?

A brilliant, tried and tested structure for answering competency-based interview questions is what’s called the Star Technique.

With the STAR technique, you start off and you tell the interviewer the situation you were faced with. You then move on and explain the tasks that needed doing. You then give specific details about the action you took before finishing off with the results of your actions.

Competency-based interview questions and top scoring answers

Let now look at several example competency based interview questions and top scoring answers that utilize the Star Technique.

The first question is based on the competency of customer focus.

Question: Tell me about a time when you provided excellent customer service.



“In a previous role, I was speaking to a customer about an expensive product they wanted to buy from us.”


“It was my job to offer excellent service, to establish the customer’s needs, and to help them choose the right product.”


“When I started asking the customer questions, I felt the more expensive product was not really suitable for their requirements. Now, although it would have been easy for me to sell the customer, the more expensive product, I did not think this was fair because cheaper, more suitable products were readily available. I explained, based on my knowledge why I felt the cheaper product was more suitable for them, and the customer went along with my recommendation.”


“The customer was thrilled with the fact I had not pushed them into spending more money, and they went on to leave a fantastic review online about the service they had received.”

The next competency based interview question is based on the competency of problem solving. The question is:

Question: Describe a situation when you had to solve a difficult problem.

Here’s example answer to help you.



“I was working as part of a team in a previous role when I noticed a co-worker had become severely demotivated. Their lack of productivity was impacting negatively on the team.”


“As a caring co-worker, I felt it was my responsibility to get to the bottom of the problem so the team could operate at full capacity again.”


“I took the time to speak to my colleague in private and I asked them if everything was okay. Initially, they said they were fine, but when I asked several probing questions, they started to open up. They informed me their partner had recently left them and they were feeling upset, demotivated and lonely.

I sympathized and demonstrated empathy before suggesting they should speak to the human resources department to ask for help. I outlined the benefits of this course of action and I stated I was here to support them.

Once they agreed, I suggested we should work more closely together over the coming months so I could help them through this difficult period.”


“After several weeks of working together, and after they had obtained support from the human resources team, their levels of productivity and motivation improved significantly.”

The next competency-based interview question is based on the competency of decision making. The question is:

Question: Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision.

Here’s example answer.



“In my previous role, we have been using the same supplier for many years. Up until recently, they had been reliable, trustworthy, and extremely cost effective. However, we started to receive several complaints from customers about the standard of some of their products, which obviously concerned me.”


“I had to decide whether or not to keep using the same supplier or try and find a new one.”


“After careful consideration and after weighing up our priorities, I decided to find a new supplier. Although the new supplier could not match the same price, I felt it was important to get customer service standards back up to where they were previously.”


“After using the new supplier for three months, our customer service ratings improved significantly. Although our new supplier costs had increased, average customer spend had gone up significantly, which helped to offset the additional costs of the new supplier.”

The next competency based interview question is based on the competency of teamwork. This comes up a lot during job interviews. The question is:

Question: Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team.



“I was working in a previous role as part of a team whose responsibility was to organize a large promotional event for our company. Unfortunately, the catering company who are going to supply food and drinks for the event, let us down with just 24 hours to go.”


“It was our task to come up with an alternative solution for ensuring suitable refreshments were available to all event delegates.”


“After calling around alternative catering companies, none were available to help out at such short notice. Now we agreed as a team, the only way forward was to go out and buy supplies ourselves. So we drew up a list of which team member would be responsible for each specific area.

I was responsible for sandwiches and snacks, another person was responsible for hot and cold drinks, another person responsible for sourcing plates and cutlery, and another person was responsible for ensuring suitable refrigeration was available at the event venue.

Now, once everyone was clear of their responsibilities, we agreed to meet back at the venue at a set time to organize the distribution of the refreshments.”


“By allocating team tasks, and by having a set deadline to work towards, we were able to collectively overcome this challenge by working together to achieve a successful outcome.”

These are four example competency based interview questions and top scoring answers that utilize the STAR technique. Make sure you use it during your own interview.

Thank you so much for reading and paying attention to this article, and I wish you all the best for passing your interview.

by Scholars Hub

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