How to prepare well for a Competency Based Interview

5 Minutes

Interviews are always a bit nerve-racking even to the most confident of us and you would be ...

Interviews are always a bit nerve-racking even to the most confident of us and you would be forgiven by having a mixed feeling of emotions beforehand; excitement of getting the interview in the first place and then the concerns and fears over how you will perform. Obviously you want to do well and impress. If you have got to interview stage then they have already potentially seen what they are looking for on your CV. The interview gives them a chance to find out what you are like as a person and to see if you can really do what you say you can! It also gives you the chance to see if they are the kind of organisation and people you want to work for. In essence it’s an assessment of whether you think you will be a good fit for each other in the long term.

It’s natural get nervous before an interview but if you are always well prepared you will significantly enhance your chances of success! There are lots of different styles of interview and we at Sacco Mann offer some practical advice on how to prepare for an interview generally in our Career Zone.

What I have noticed is an increase of an interview style known as Competency Based Interviews. Competency Based Interviews (also called structured interviews) are interviews where each question is designed to test one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against pre-decided criteria and marked accordingly. For example, the interviewers may want to test your ability to deal with stress by asking first how the candidate generally handles pressure and then asking the candidate to provide an example of a situation where he worked under pressure. Therefore the best way to prepare for this is to have a think about the kind of skills your employer is looking for in a role and pre-determine examples of how you have dealt with these in past roles. In particular Legal skills often include (and this list is not exclusive):

  • an ability to manage high caseloads;
  • deal with clients and third parties at all levels, and;
  • working towards targets;
  • ability to work in a team;
  • ability to deal with difficult situations.

If there is a job specification this is always an excellent way of identifying what kind of skills your potential employer is looking for.

If you really want to be prepared and truly impress then you can consider something called the STAR approach to competency based interviews. This is simply a way of structuring the answers and its stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. It really helps break down what you are trying to get across in a concise way. It will also show your potential employer that you have put a lot of thought into your answers which will always come across well.

If you are well prepared then you can walk away knowing that you have done your best no matter what the outcome and will certainly have the advantage when it comes to impressing your interviewers. Even if you’re not successful this time, take it as a learning curve and use any feedback as a way to improve for next time. Good luck!

If you need any further information then please visit our Careers Zone on our website or telephone one of our consultants 0113 245 3338 (Leeds), 0161 831 6890 (Manchester) or 0203 440 5625 (London).