Key Post: Preparing for a "Competency Based Interview"

triplej

Frequent Poster
Messages
37
I am looking for a little advise on the above topic. I am preparing for an interview with a public service body. The interviews are competency based i.e. ability to be a 'Team Player', ability to 'Communicate cleary , confidently and effectively etc', show a strong 'Customer/Stakeholder Focus' and 'Concern for Quality and Clarity of Work'. The problem I have is this, up to now all the interviews I have done have been very technical in nature whereas these are just great 'wooly' areas in which anything could be asked e.g 'demonstrate how you are a good listener?'. To me it sounds like the perfect opportunity for a b.s. artist.

The thoughts of sitting through a half or three quarters of such vague questions is not something I am too comfortable with. Has anybody out there any experience of sitting such interviews or sources of info. on how to deal with them, what questions may be asked etc..?
 

Thirsty

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,646
Re: Competency based interviews.

What they will be looking for is an example in your working experience where you have been able to demonstrate (say) Quality of Work.

So an example might be something like (and I'm making this up). "When I worked in Acme Limited, I was employed in Tech. Support. A fault on XYZ server was reported; when I investigated I found that the patch applied caused an intermittant problem. I fixed this problem and the server operated normally. However I checked our records and found that we have 16 other XYZ servers; so I checked each one of them and found another 6 that had the same patch applied. This meant that I was able to prevent a similar fault occuring on any of our other servers".

So what you need to do is go through the job description/specification and look for the type of attributes they are interviewing for and then thinking through your work experience look for ways in which you can show how you have this attribute.

Best of luck w. the interview.
 

ajapale

Moderator
Messages
7,719
Re: Competency based interviews.

Hi tripleJ,

Try a google search for Competency based interviews.

Also try to put your contempt for such wooly bs to one side. The HR people who use these techniques are truly enthralled with them.

I would be suprised it the public service were using a fully developed competency model (as exists in the some finiancial institutions) and suspect they may just be using the buzz word to mask a woolly unstructured interview.

My current favourite competency is "influencing upward" translated this means "getting things done even if your not the boss" .... a rare ability you might agree?

aj
 

Magoo

Frequent Poster
Messages
135
Re: Competency based interviews.

These are the competencies that have been identified as being appropriate to the position you're applying for. You're being asked to present and discuss a situation in which you displayed each competency.

Far from being wooly, you can expect to tested rigourously on the example you present as a means of determining whether it was real or whether you're BS'ing.

I think Kildrought's suggested approach is sensible. But in addition, you have to be able to make the connection between your example and the job you're going for. Ulitmately, that's what they're looking for.
 

RainyDay

Frequent Poster
Messages
4,506
Re: Competency based interviews.

Thinks of a few example incidents which demonstrate your skills in these areas, and be prepared to be drilled in a lot of detail about your own specific role in these incidents and how you learnt from them.
 

tallpaul

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,088
Re: Competency based interviews.

ajapale said:
Hi tripleJ,


I would be suprised it the public service were using a fully developed competency model (as exists in the some finiancial institutions) and suspect they may just be using the buzz word to mask a woolly unstructured interview.


aj
Here we go again with public/civil service bashing. Where do you get your outlandish view that it would be a woolly unstructured interview??? Suddenly financial institutions are the paragon of best practice HR!!!!

FYI, interviews carried out in the CS are far from 'woolly'. I should know because I have given them.

Candidates will be expected to show their capability or competence by giving an example from their own experience which best demonstrates the particular competency.

The line of questioning generally follows the line of allowing a candidate to briefly outline the example. The candidate is asked to explain their specific role, how they specifically went about doing something, how they interacted with others. They could then be asked to explain any difficulties that arose and what solutions they used? How did they come with these solutions and how was the solution chosen to the exclusion of other options? A candidate might then be asked as to what they learnt from the experience and what they might do differently if faced with a smiliar situation.

If an interviewer is trained correctly in the techniques of competency based interviews, it leaves little rooom for the bs artist. In fact bs is more likely to uncovered using this approach. However, the one real weakness in the system is that the interview can focus solely on competencies and a well coached candidate can do better than he/she may have a right to. For this reason, the CS is veering slightly away from pure competency to have at least have some element of practical/current affairs/real world element.
 

annR

Frequent Poster
Messages
656
Re: Competency based interviews.

>>To me it sounds like the perfect opportunity for a b.s. artist.<<

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to differenciate yourself from b.s. artists who will really show themselves up here.

HR people who are into this sort of thing can be very observant in a very tricky way and it is probably a bad idea to try any b.s.

You just have to focus a little more on thinking of examples of how you have worked with people. I know these examples can be hard to remember, but if you make the effort, that at least will come through. An idea to get you started is to ask people you know what qualities they think you have that would make you good to work with. Then if you agree with them, think of examples where those qualities have really worked well for you.
 

Janet

Frequent Poster
Messages
648
Re: Competency based interviews.

One tip I was given before by a friend working in HR which may help when preparing for this is to first look at the job spec, list the skills and attributes which are necessary to do it. Then look at your CV and experience and list two or three examples of situations which may apply to each of those skills. Bear in mind that often the same examples might apply to more than one skill. This is a better way to prepare than just having examples prepared and hoping you'll be able to relate those examples to whatever you're asked, if you know what I mean. Having it all written out in this way may make it easier for you to remember specific examples in the actual interview as well.
 

car

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,393
Re: Competency based interviews.

aj, the structure was compiled by a team of psychologists who felt this was a better interview technique and has been in use for the last decade or so.

Kildrought gave the best example of what will be looked for so follow that. It actually makes interviewing easier for the interviewee as the interviewer isnt allowed go off an a tangent and ask about other things youve done in your career. They can only ask about the example youve given so know it inside out. Write it out and get someone to test you on it.

note:
Ive been an interviewer (and an interviewee) using this method in the CS.
 

xeresod

Frequent Poster
Messages
226
Re: Competency based interviews.

Also, make sure you have prepared two different examples for each topic as you may be asked to give a different example than what you have submitted on the form. This especially happens if the interviewers don't think the example you gave reflects the compentcy in question or if you have used the same example for a number of other competencies (don't use the same example more than twice).

Check out this link http://www.publicjobs.ie/en/careers/advice/interview_hints_tech.htm for help.
 

ajapale

Moderator
Messages
7,719
Re: Competency based interviews.

Hi TallPaul,

Does the CS have a fully developed competency model?

In fairness to the cs I was wrong to asert that cs interviews were wooly or unstructured. sorry.

Notwithstanding that I find that many organisations (public and private) often adopt the latest 'du jour' fad, overlay it on their existing systems and claim to have fully implemented it.

I know some of the banks have developed a competency model and have provided training to their staff and interviewers to operate it.


aj
 

xeresod

Frequent Poster
Messages
226
Re: Competency based interviews.

ajapale said:
Does the CS have a fully developed competency model?
....
Notwithstanding that I find that many organisations (public and private) often adopt the latest 'du jour' fad, overlay it on their existing systems and claim to have fully implemented it.aj
Yes - all interviewers have been fully trained and this type of interview has been used (successfully) for at least the last 4 years.
 

car

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,393
Re: Competency based interviews.

Hi AJ,
The CS does have a full competency model. I worked in the old CS commision on mount street for a while during the time the competency interviews were being brought in.
The public jobs link posted earlier contains a word doc giving hints on how to prepare for the interview.
see the bit on Preparing your ‘examples’ / ‘experiences’.


When the CBIs were first introduced, there were no hints or other ala that doc. The team of (behavioural I think) psychologists have probably reviewed since. Believe me, its treated very seriously.
 

ajapale

Moderator
Messages
7,719
Re: Competency based interviews.

Thanks everyone,

its good to know that the cs is adopting some progressive HR methodology.

aj
 
C

careerguy

Guest
Re: Competency based interviews.

You need to structure your answers and be mindful that you only have acouple of minutes to get your point across. Questions will typically be backward-looking ("Can you give us an example of a time when you ..."") but can also verge into the hypothetical ("What would you do if ...?").

Don't get mired down in explaining the situation - they are interested in what you did and in what process you applied, rather than in the minute detail of which subset of which department it happened in. Focus on your mindset, your thought process and the actions you took. It's even better if the example you give has a positive outcome!

In preparing for a CB interview, you need to drill down on the competences they have plucked off the framework of the job description. Do the google search on CBI and add in the specific competence. That should give you a list example questions and you can start picking 3-4 examples of when you demonstrated that competence in the past. It feels very strange talking like this in the interview, so I would always recommend marching up and down and chatting it through a few times, out loud, in advance of the interview.
 

triplej

Frequent Poster
Messages
37
Re: Competency based interviews.

Thanks very much for the replies, there is a lot of very sound advice in there. I have to say though that I still have a sense that this type of interview allows one to prepare a b.s type response to a question that is based on a past experience or a hypothetical situation, whereas if one is asked a specific question on a technical issue there is zero room for b.s.
I have had some feedback from colleagues who have gone through the process and this is a feeling shared by them also. For some reason we seem to be obsessed with adopting these American type models where we are all part of the 'team' and by working a few key phrases into your answer then 'bobs yer uncle', you fit the profile. Personally I think a Q&A session based on issues relevant to the position is a much better approach, but then again I don't work in HR.
On the issue of CS I think we are a bit of a soft target for criticism. I don't think it is fair to suggest that thay are not adopting new approached to recruitment, I have worked on both sides of the fence and have to say that the CS take an extremely professional approach to these things.
 

colly

Frequent Poster
Messages
184
Preparing for a &quot;Competency Based Interview&quot;

I am going for a job with a large company who use Competency Based Interview Techniques. If you don't know exactly what that is read this:
http://www.highways.gov.uk/jobs/3338.aspx

I really want this job but I know the interview is going to be tough, so I want to do as much preparation as possible. It is for a job in IT sales. I was wondering if anyone has any direct advice for me or can point me in the right direction.
Thanks
 

CCOVICH

Frequent Poster
Messages
8,831
Re: Preparing for a "Competency Based Interview"

What are the competencies outlined in the job spec?

You will need to demonstrate that you possess the necessary competencies, e.g. "tell me about a time where you used your negotiating skills to resolve a difficult situation"?

I have found them quite difficult, i.e. recalling specific examples of when I demonstarted this/that.
 

Art

Frequent Poster
Messages
298
Re: Preparing for a "Competency Based Interview"

If you have not got the job spec, ring them up and get it. It might also be worth a call to ask them what competencies they are assessing.

I would imagine given that it is a sales job they will be looking for you to have

Persuasive skills
Interpersonal skills
Negotiation skills
Problem solving ability
Ability to meet targets
etc

A look at the job spec as CCOVICH suggested will help you further

Finally I cannot emphasise this point enough: Think of a SPECIFIC example for each one. Don't go saying - well I have very good persuasive skills, what I usually do is etc etc.

Instead give a specific example of an occasion when you used your persuasive skills. Have these examples on the tip of your tongue before you go in - if you do you will come across extremely well as most people spend time thinking about these inside in the interview and don't come up with their best example.
 

aonfocaleile

Frequent Poster
Messages
223
Re: Preparing for a "Competency Based Interview"

Have at least 2 examples for each competency, ideally both from your working life. You will need to know exactly what the competencies are in order to prepare
 
Top