How to Conduct an Effective Competency-based Interview Method ?

In a competency-based interview, the most important aspect is looking at the past experience of the candidate. For your information, past experience will give an accurate prediction on how a certain candidate will perform in the job he or she is applying for.

As a recruiter, you must carefully look at how applicants have dealt with issues in their previous work, what they have learned from the approach they used and how they carried out what they learned in future circumstances. To put it simply, you must be eager to hear the stories of the applicants’ past experiences.

However, you must ask them the right interview questions that will reveal their level of competency.

Questions that Should Not Be Asked
Competency-based interview does not take the place of technical interviews and your interview must also cover the job’s technical requirements.

Before you discover the kinds of questions you may ask a candidate to find out if they are suitable for the job, you should first know those questions which you should not ask because it is inappropriate or illegal to do so.

Bear in mind that you should not ask any questions related to age or number of children, marital status, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnic background, religion, race, disabilities, whether or not the applicant needs benefits or any other controversial issues.

Competency-based Interview Framework
In order for you to ensure that the flow of your competency-based interview will be as smooth as possible, here is a framework that you can follow.

• Use polite introductions and have a general conversation in order to make the applicant feel at ease – such as the forthcoming local events, weather, etc.

• Let the applicant know that you will jot down notes during the competency-based interview and that you will ask questions that are designed to perfectly understand whether there is a match between the goals and background of the candidate and the necessities of the position.

• For an interview that lasts for an hour, allot at least 50 minutes to ask questions that are based on scenario and 10 minutes for the applicants to ask questions. To screen applicants well, especially for higher level positions, a 90-mminute interview is ideal.

Asking scenario-based questions is an integral part of the competency-based interview because it will help you determine the manner of thinking of the applicant through problem solves and issues.

Don’t search for the right answer. Instead, obtain some insights into the thinking process of the applicants by providing them with a mini case study.

• When all has been said and done, close the interview by thanking the applicants.

The Flow of the Competency-based Interview
To know more about the applicant, you can ask probing questions such as, “Share your experience when you had to discuss with a direct report his or her dissatisfactory performance on a certain project team”.

Follow it up with more questions based on the response of the applicant in order to get more specific details.
You can ask the following:

• How the situation arose – who was able to identify the problem
• The length of time it has been going on
• The next thing that happened
• How the applicant approached the individual
• What did the applicant say
• The reaction of the other person
• The steps the applicant has taken to have the issue corrected
• The steps the applicant has taken to ensure that it would not happen again
• The outcome

To ensure the success of the competency-based interview, you can also ask the applicant such as “Share your experience when you opposed the decision or pronouncement made by your manager”.

The follow-up questions for this may include the following:
• How did you feel with regard to the decision made by your manager?
• How did you make a decision to approach him or her? What preparations did you make?
• What did you say to him or her?
• What was his or her response?
• What was the result?
• How did you feel?
• What was the most difficult part of approaching your boss?


In order to ensure the success of the competency-based interview, you need to ask only detailed questions requiring the applicant to tell you a story. Through this, you will learn so much about the applicants and their experiences, the manner by which they handle situations and the manner by which they interrelate with others.

This will help you understand better if the applicant is fit for the organization and the position.

In order for you to guarantee that the interview will have a great flow, you can also readily draft the questions. However, make sure that you listen very carefully to the answers of the applicant in order for you to ask the right probing questions.