What is a competency based interview?

‘Competency based interview’ is a widely used term to describe a style of interview. It actually relates to the manner in which you respond to questions.  Also known as behavioural interviewing the technique requires you to draw on past experience and describe specific examples of incidents that demonstrate your competence in a particular area. The most effective way of answering these questions is to use the ‘STAR’ technique:

SITUATION briefly describe the background to the situation

TASK specifically describe your responsibility

ACTION describe what you did

RESULT describe the outcome of your actions.

Here is an excellent answer to a competency-based question that is testing teamwork as a competence:


“Team work is very important in our organisation. What evidence do you have to prove that you are a good team player?”


“I have a number of examples I could share with you. In one instance I  was working as a Graphic designer in a studio locally with specific responsibility for print, advertising and magazine layout. The project deadlines changed radically with no prior warning from the client. Our web designer was off sick so in addition to working very long hours for two weeks to accommodate them I got involved with some elements of web design I hadn’t had previous exposure to. I also suggested the services of a freelancer that I used to work with and I negotiated some very appealing rates on behalf of my employers. The upshot was that the work was completed on time and received great feedback from the client resulting in two further projects from them over the next 18 months.”