Common job interview questions – and how to answer them

While technology has had a huge impact on job hunting, one aspect has remained unchanged: the job interview. And one of the stalwarts of the interviewer’s toolbox is the competency question.

A competency can be either a skill or behaviour. You will be able to spot a competency question because they usually start with: “Tell me about a time when …” or “Give me an example of when you have demonstrated …”

How to answer competency questions

There is a classic approach for answering these types of questions known as the Star technique, and if you master it you will be giving the interviewers a well-structured answer that makes it easy to assess you against the person specification. It is also beneficial to you – it gives you a structure to shape your answer around. This can prevent you from waffling or going off on a tangent. Here’s how to use it:

Situation This gives context to your answer so it might include where you were working at the time, what your role was and any brief background information.

Task You need to communicate what you were trying to do or achieve in the example.

Action Describe what actions you took to manage the task in that particular situation.

Result Show how you made a difference, added value or had an impact on the bottom line. The outcome can be quantifiable or anecdotal.

Remember, it is impossible to have a successful interview without proper preparation, so putting in the time to prepare some Star examples is more likely to win you the job.


Source: Sarah Archer – The Guardian 11th November 2016


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