Seven types of interview questions by competencies

Competency interview questions seek to assess skills and behaviors in specific situations.

Employment resources

Are you applying for jobs and are you worried about the timing of the interviews? Do you work in the human resources department and have questions about what to ask candidates? In either case, this post interests you. And we are going to talk about interview questions by competencies.  

If you have ever gone through a job interview, you probably faced the typical questions about previous studies or professional experience. Well, competency interviews go a step further and use a structured approach to evaluate your skills and behaviours in specific situations. 

What should you know about competency-based interview questions? 

First of all, it is important to know that competencies are characteristics, knowledge or skills that are useful in a specific job. For example, the ability to work in a team, problem solving or leadership are some of these competencies. 

In a competency-based interview, also known as behavioural interviews, the recruiter usually asks questions designed to learn how the candidate has behaved in specific situations. The objective is, ultimately, for the candidate to explain concrete and real examples in which he or she has needed to put these skills into practice. 

In this way, employers will be able to more effectively evaluate whether a candidate has the necessary skills and abilities for the position offered. In addition, it serves to create an equal question structure for all candidates, which makes the evaluation process more fair and objective. 

Types of interview questions by competencies 

Before moving on to the types of questions most used in a behavioural interview, it is important that you know what the interviewer expects of you. Generally, the questions are posed following the STAR model: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. When employers place you in a particular scenario and ask you to explain what you would do, they expect you to comment on the situation they pose, the tasks you take on, the actions to take to solve the dilemma, and the expected results.

Now, we share with you seven types of interview questions by competencies. Take note! 

Adaptability questions 

Adaptability questions, as the name suggests, seek to assess a candidate’s ability to adjust and be productive in changing environments. In this way, we try to find out how the candidate has faced situations in which flexibility or the ability to learn quickly was required. 

Here are some examples of adaptability questions : 

  • Describe a situation in which you were faced with an unexpected change at work. How did you adapt to that situation? 
  • Tell me about a time when you had to learn a new skill or task in a short amount of time. How did you approach it? 
  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a project with tight deadlines and multiple priorities. How did you organize your time and adapt to the pressure? 

Teamwork questions 

These questions are intended to gain insight into the candidate’s ability to collaborate and work effectively with others to achieve common goals, overcoming any differences. Some examples are:  

  • Describe a project you worked on as a team. What was your role on the team and how did you contribute to the success of the project? 
  • Can you share an example of a situation in which you had to resolve a conflict within a work team? 
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a team member. How did you handle it and what was the result? 

Customer orientation questions 

Guiding questions allow the interviewer to evaluate the candidate’s ability to focus on customer needs, communicate effectively, solve problems, and work to ensure customer satisfaction. Questions such as:  

  • Can you share an example of a situation where you provided exceptional customer service? How did you identify and meet their needs? 
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to convince a client that what they were asking of you was against their own interests. 
  • Can you give me an example of how you turned a negative experience into a positive customer experience? 
  • What strategies do you use to build strong, trusting relationships with clients? 

Initiative and autonomy questions 

These questions look for specific examples of how the candidate has identified opportunities, acted without needing direct supervision, and made important decisions on his or her own. To do this, they ask questions such as: 

  • Can you share an example of a situation where you took on a difficult challenge on your own? How did you approach it and what results did you achieve? 
  • How do you prioritize and manage your workload when you don’t have clear direction or direct supervision? 
  • Tell me about a time when you identified an improvement opportunity at work and acted to implement a change. 

Leadership questions 

Leadership questions are designed to analyze the candidate’s ability to lead, motivate, and guide others toward achieving common goals. In this case, the questions could be similar to these: 

  • Describe a situation in which you took on a leadership role on a project or team. How did you motivate and guide your teammates to success? 
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision as a leader. How did you evaluate the available options and how did you communicate your decision to the team? 
  • How do you develop and support the professional growth and development of your team members? 

Verbal communication questions 

In most jobs, good verbal communication skills are necessary to convey information, ideas and concepts effectively. Therefore, employers use these types of questions to learn about verbal communication skills:  

  • Describe a situation in which you had to communicate complex information to a client or colleague. How did you ensure your message was clear and understandable? 
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news to a client or colleague. How did you handle the situation and what steps did you take to ensure communication was effective? 
  • How do you handle difficult questions or comments during a conversation or presentation? Can you give me an example of how you handled a situation like this in the past? 

Liability questions 

Lastly, responsibility questions attempt to understand a candidate’s ability to take responsibility, make important decisions, and be accountable for their actions. Thus, questions such as the following are used: 

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to take responsibility for a mistake. 
  • How do you manage the tasks assigned to you to ensure they are completed on time and to the required standards? 
  • Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision at work and how it affected others. 

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