What is a competency based interview & how to prepare for one

 In Hints & Tips

Competency based interviews are now very common and you may have had one without realising.

This is the type of interview that looks for examples of your skills in action not just the theory. Typically you will be asked “please give me an example of when you have shown/done ‘x’ or ‘y’ or ‘z’. You will need to describe the situation, what you did and why, and describe the outcome – you might include what you learned and how you might do it differently in future.

Answers need to be concise, tailored to the question and with clear, (and in sales certainly) ideally measurable outcomes. If you are concerned your answer is too concise – ask if you have answered the question and if they’d like you to expand.

Definitely avoid generalisations and waffling. Expect to be challenged on your thinking and/ or methodology. This won’t be because they think you are wrong – they may just want explore your thinking further and investigate the validity of your answer. This is generally a good thing as it shows they are interested and listening thoroughly.

This means you will need to prepare in some detail so you can respond to the above. A really useful exercise is to make a list of what you think your key skills and qualities are and map these against the job description. In addition, think about the skills that you know make you great at your current job and that you will need in the new position.

As mentioned above – the strongest examples always have a tangible/measurable result or benefit. If you can’t think of a direct benefit to tag on the end of the example then you’re better off with a different case study. Try to think (and write down for yourself) two or three examples for each skill/quality. Writing them down for yourself will help you remember them. Really worth practising answering these questions – with someone who will give you honest feedback!

Skill (eg) Example (eg)
Prospecting When working for ‘x’ the business had no database so I sourced leads from…….set myself activity targets of ‘y’ calls a day….converted x% appointments etc….and ended up converting £x of business, getting me over target by y%…


If you are booked for a competency based interview through Callidus, we will help you to prepare.

We tend to know our clients thoroughly and as well as a general guide as to the type of interview, can usually give you an insight in to the company style and the approach of the interviewer – so you can be confident as to what to expect.

We take feedback almost every day from interviewers and interviewees and so are aware of the common pitfalls and will help you prepare thoroughly so you can avoid them. After an interview, whether you are successful or unsuccessful, we will seek feedback for you and pass on anything that we feel will be useful to you and will help improve your future performance.

Look out for upcoming blogs that will cover “assessment centres and how to prepare for them”, “key tips for interview presentations” and “what to expect from profiling / testing” among other topics.