Competency Based Interviews

Competency based interviews (otherwise known as situational or behavioural based interviews) are built on the idea that your past behaviour is the best predictor of your future behaviour. So the interviewer’s goal is to obtain specific examples of when and how you have demonstrated particular competencies or skills (the behaviours that they require to adequately fulfil the job!).

Competency Based Interviews

Prepare In Advance

Answer competency based interview questions using real experiences that you have had and be ready to give examples.

Tell it like a story as this will better engage the interviewer and as an alternative you could start your answer by detailing the result and then carrying on by describing the steps you took and the process you followed.

Before the interview review the Job Description. Think about how your skills, knowledge and experience match the requirements of the role and the examples you can give that will allow you to demonstrate these skills.

The best way to answer a competency based question is to:

  • Describe a situation (can be outside of work)
  • Explain exactly what you did – use ‘I’ not ‘we’
  • Describe the results that can be attributed to your actions
  • Summarize the example with a positive evaluation of your skills
  • Explain how you learned from the experience or how you were able to solve the problem by using other skills and abilities.

Generic Interview Questions

  • Talk me through your CV?
  • Why do you want to work in Finance?
  • What do you know about our organisation?

Strengths & Weaknesses

  • How would your manager describe you? How do your colleagues see you?
  • What role have you enjoyed the most in your career?
  • What aspects of your current role do you enjoy the most?
  • What aspects of your role do you enjoy the least?
  • What are your core strengths?
  • What are your development needs?


  • Talk me through a typical day at work.
  • How do you ensure you meet your deadlines?
  • What do you do if you aren't going to meet a deadline?
  • What do you do if you’ve planned your day and then something unexpected happens?
  • Tell me about a project you have been involved in? What was your role in the project? How did you plan for the project?


  • What parts of your role involve being accurate?
  • Is your work checked?
  • What are the consequences for the business if your work isn’t accurate?
  • How do you ensure your work is accurate?


  • What motivates you in your job?
  • Is there any time in your role where you have instigated and implemented change? What were the benefits to the business?
  • How do you stay motivated in your role?
  • What would you say has been your greatest achievement?


  • What interests you about this role?
  • What would you hope to achieve in the first 90 days if you came into the role?

Communication and Building Relationships

  • To what extent does your role involve dealing with other departments/ clients?
  • How do you prefer communicating?
  • What aspects of your current role involve getting information from other departments?
  • How do you ensure you get this information on time?
  • How do you build and maintain business relationships?

Management and Team Leading (If Relevant)

  • What has been your main challenge as manager in your current role?
  • How do you motivate your team through the highs and lows?
  • How do you ensure all your staff are performing to the required level?
  • Tell me about a time when you have had to manage a member of staff who was underperforming? What did you do? What was the outcome?
  • What do you do if a member of staff isn’t pulling their weight in the team?
  • Finally remember to review the job description and the organisation’s website as part of your preparation and try where possible to tie your answers back to the skills required and tasks described.

Ask questions when offered the chance but make them count .. some examples:

  • What is the structure of the department?
  • How does the department fit into the rest of the organisation?
  • What opportunities are there for training and development?
  • What opportunities are there for progression within the role?
  • What are the main challenges facing the department / organisation?
  • What is the culture of the department/organisation?