Top 10 competency-based interview questions to find the perfect candidate

Competency-based interview questions help you identify whether a candidate has the right skills for the role. They take the focus away from qualifications and industry experience, and are useful when you’re looking for skills like teamwork, communication, decision making and leadership.

5 mins read
Competency Based Interviews

over 2 years ago

What is a competency-based interview?

A competency-based interview, also known as a structured, behavioural, or situational interview, typically includes activities or tasks that assess a candidate's ability to perform the skills mentioned in their CV and cover letter. It also involves situational-style questions that aim to understand how candidates have utilized specific skills to solve problems.

Asking competency-based questions helps determine how candidates will apply their skills and knowledge in your organization.

What are the best competency-based interview questions to ask?

This list of competency questions encourages candidates to provide real-life examples in their responses. It allows you to understand their decision-making process and evaluate the outcomes of their actions.

Our top 10 competency-based interview questions will assist you in recruiting the skills your team requires.

What are your greatest strengths?

This is a classic interview question for a good reason.

It provides candidates with an opportunity to demonstrate that they possess the necessary skills for the role. Keep the job description in mind to assess whether the candidate understands how their skills align with the role.

Remember, you are looking for transferable skills, not just evidence of prior experience in the same role.

What will your skills and ideas bring to this company?

This competency-based question allows you to identify standout candidates from the pool.

A strong candidate will demonstrate an understanding of your company's goals in their response. An exceptional candidate will provide practical examples of how their skills can contribute to achieving that vision.

What have you achieved elsewhere?

Confidence is crucial when answering this competency-based question. It gives candidates an opportunity to discuss past successes and experiences relevant to the vacancy.

Ensure that the achievements you gather from their answers are work-related and applicable to what you are seeking.

How have you improved in the last year?

Candidates may try to hide their weaknesses, but this competency-based interview question allows them to showcase their willingness to learn from mistakes.

It also provides an opportunity to assess the candidate's self-awareness and desire for personal development.

“Competency-based interview questions ask for real-life examples to show a candidate’s skills.

Describe a situation where you provided support to a team member facing challenges.

This question aims to assess your ability to demonstrate empathy towards your colleagues while still focusing on achieving your own goals.

Candidates with more experience should be able to discuss instances where they provided training or mentoring to their co-workers, resulting in improved team performance.

Share an example of a time when you had to think quickly and adapt to achieve a goal.

In other words, “can you handle unexpected situations effectively?”

The candidate's response should highlight their ability to remain calm and perform well in scenarios they were not prepared for.

Tell us about the most recent significant decision you had to make.

This question aims to provide insight into your decision-making process and whether your reasoning aligns with the requirements of the role.

This competency-based question is designed to evaluate how you approach decision-making. Do you rely on logical reasoning or gut intuition? Does your decision-making approach align with what we are seeking in a candidate?

Describe a situation where you had to work with someone difficult.

All candidates should have an example of how they handled a challenging colleague. They should answer this question with honesty and a specific scenario of how they resolved the issue. Instead of blaming the other person, they should acknowledge their own role in the situation, and how they would do things differently in the future.

“It’s essential to get a sense of how candidates would fit and thrive within your company culture.

What did you teach recently?

You have asked the interviewee about their skills, but can they demonstrate an ability to share these skills with others? This question is not limited to managerial or senior positions and should be posed whenever you are looking for a candidate who will contribute to your team.

How do you match this company’s needs?

The essence of this competency-based question is whether the candidate can articulate how their transferable skills would suit your role. This assesses both their self-awareness and their comprehension of what you are seeking in a new employee.

The candidate should be able to persuasively explain why they are interested in working for your company and assure you that they would blend well with your team culture.

If you want to know more about interviews, please reach out to your local recruitment specialist.

How should candidates answer competency-based interview questions?

Jobseekers should share real-life stories when answering competency interview questions. They should pinpoint the competencies you have emphasised in your question and provide concrete, preferably quantifiable, examples of times they’ve applied these skills.

How an interviewee organises an answer to competency questions can give you a great indication of how they handle their work. Answers to competency-based interview questions should follow the STAR method, with candidate descriptions consisting of the following:

  • Situation – A short background to the situation where they used the skills in question.

  • Task – What was their objective that required them to use these skills?

  • Action – How did they go about achieving the task/situation?

  • Result – What outcome did their approach to the situation produce?

You’re looking for jobseekers to arrange their answers to competency interview questions in a way resembling this. This shows that they have prepared for the interview, and also that they have clear thinking when faced with pressure.

The risk with competency-based interview questions is that candidates can plan for them by using the job description to identify situations or skills you’re likely to ask them about. This can result in them giving pre-made answers which reveal less about how they reason on the spot.

Why is it important to ask competency-based interview questions when hiring?

Asking competency questions enables you to instantly observe how an interviewee would react in work-related situations, eliminating some of the uncertainty of whether the role is right for them.

You will also swiftly determine how they utilise the skills and experience mentioned in their CV and cover letter.

New call-to-action

You may also be interested in

Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices
1 mins read

Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices

Employee monitoring can help ensure productivity and accountability among employees, as managers can track their work progress and identify areas where improvement is needed. Monitoring enhances data security by detecting and preventing unauthorised access or data breaches and additionally, it enables you to adhere to regulatory and compliance requirements, reducing legal risks. 

The key thing to remember is that workplace surveillance is perfectly acceptable, as long as you can legally justify your reasons, and it is always better to be ‘overt’, not ‘covert’.  

A report shows that despite normality returning to working life post-pandemic, demand for employee surveillance software is 49% above 2019 levels. 

Our eBook, ‘Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices’, provides insight from top experts in the field including:    

Keith Rosser, Director of Group Risk and Reed Screening, Reed 

Hayfa Mohdzaini, Senior Research Adviser, CIPD

 By downloading this eBook, you will discover:   

  • What employee monitoring is 

  • Whether it's needed for your business

  • Considerations for introducing workplace monitoring  

  • The benefits and drawbacks  

  • Potential impact of surveillance on the workforce 

  • Your duties as a responsible employer 

“Monitoring software that employees see as intrusive and unnecessary is more likely to erode mutual trust in the employment relationship. Employers need to show how using monitoring software can benefit employees, while respecting their privacy.” -Hayfa Mohdzaini, Senior Research Adviser, CIPD.

Workplace monitoring: guidance for your organisation
2 mins read
  1. Article

Workplace monitoring: guidance for your organisation

​In the past, workplace monitoring was relatively simplistic: employers relied on visual supervision and basic timekeeping systems, and the concept of privacy was limited.

Fast forward to the digital age. Employee monitoring has reached new levels of sophistication and become common practice for employers seeking to boost productivity, enhance security, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Improved productivity and deeper insights

With the advancement of technology, including GPS tracking, computer monitoring software, and biometric identification systems, surveillance can provide employers with detailed insights into employee activities and performance.

One of the key benefits of employee monitoring is the ability to track and improve productivity levels. By monitoring employees' activities, employers can identify inefficiencies, analyse workflow processes, and provide targeted feedback to enhance performance. This data-driven approach allows companies to optimise their operations, allocate resources effectively, and ultimately improve their bottom line.

Monitoring can also help employers identify and address issues such as time theft, excessive breaks, and unauthorised activities in the workplace. With real-time monitoring tools, employers can detect irregularities and take corrective actions promptly, therefore improving accountability and integrity among employees.

Employee monitoring can also aid in compliance with regulations and industry standards. By keeping a close eye on electronic communications, websites visited, and files accessed, employers can ensure that employees adhere to data protection laws, maintain confidentiality, and comply with company policies. This proactive approach minimises the risk of data breaches and security incidents and also protects the company from potential legal liabilities.

Balancing surveillance and ethics

Despite the clear advantages of employee monitoring, it is crucial for organisations to approach this practice with sensitivity and respect for staff privacy. As a matter of course, employers should establish clear policies regarding monitoring practices, communicate openly with employees about the purpose and scope of monitoring, and ensure transparency in the use of monitoring tools.

Prioritise the protection of sensitive employee data by implementing robust security measures, restricting access to monitoring data, and complying with data protection regulations such as GDPR. These considerations can ease employees’ minds about any surveillance and even instil appreciation for such measures. After all, workplace security is in everyone’s best interests.

Download our best practice guide to employee monitoring

Our eBook, ‘Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices’ provides insight into how employers might best integrate employee monitoring into their organisation, and considerations for what the impact may be on employees. With opinion from thought leaders, it addresses everything from pre-employment checks to the tracking tech that might be right your organisation.

Looking to hire top talent for your organisation or to find your next dream role? Get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.

How to become a marketing executive
3 mins read
  1. Article

How to become a marketing executive

Are you wondering how to become a marketing executive? This article provides you with all the information you need to start your career journey.

What is a marketing executive?

A marketing executive is a key member of a marketing team and is often responsible for developing and implementing marketing campaigns to promote the company's products or services. They work closely with other teams, such as sales, product development, and advertising, to ensure cohesive messaging and strategic alignment. Marketing executives analyse market trends, conduct market research, and utilize various channels, including digital platforms, traditional media, and events, to reach target audiences and achieve marketing objectives.

A marketing executive career is best suited to those with a creative mindset, strong communication skills, and a passion for strategic planning. Adaptability, analytical thinking, and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment are also crucial attributes for success in this role.

Types of marketing executive

Marketing executives can specialize in various areas, including:

Digital marketing executive

Focuses on online channels such as paid social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Brand marketing executive

Concentrates on building and managing the brand’s identity, including brand messaging, visual assets, and brand consistency across all touchpoints.

Content marketing executive

Creates and distributes valuable, relevant content to attract and engage target audiences, often through blog posts, articles, videos, and infographics.

Product marketing executive

Works closely with product development teams to understand product features, benefits, and target markets, and develops marketing strategies to drive product adoption and sales.

What do you need to become a marketing executive

Here are the marketing executive qualifications that you will need to obtain for the role:

Academic qualifications

While a degree in marketing, business, or a related field is beneficial, practical experience and demonstrable skills are often equally important, so a degree is not always necessary.

Professional qualifications

Many employers look for candidates with internship experience, relevant certifications (such as Google Analytics or HubSpot), and a strong understanding of marketing principles and techniques.

Skills and experience

Key skills for marketing executives include creativity, strategic thinking, attention to detail, and proficiency in digital marketing tools and platforms.

Marketing executive role and responsibilities

What does a marketing executive do? Well, the role varies depending on the organization and industry, but marketing executive responsibilities typically include:

  • Developing and executing marketing strategies to meet business objectives

  • Conducting market research to identify target audiences, market trends, and competitors

  • Creating compelling content and promotional materials across various channels

  • Managing social media accounts and engaging with followers

  • Analysing campaign performance and optimizing strategies based on data insights

  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams, such as sales, to ensure alignment and integration of marketing efforts

Marketing executives typically work standard office hours, although overtime may be required during busy periods or when deadlines are approaching. Salaries for marketing executives in Singapore vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and industry sector.

Entry-level positions may start at around $3,000 per month, while experienced and senior marketing executives can earn around $4,000 per month.

Marketing executive career prospects

As businesses continue to prioritize digital marketing and data-driven decision-making, the demand for skilled marketing executives is expected to remain high. Experienced professionals may advance to senior management positions, from senior marketing executive, content marketing manager, head of digital marketing, up to marketing director. Continuing education, staying updated on industry trends, and networking within the marketing community can enhance career prospects and open new opportunities.

In conclusion, becoming a marketing executive requires a combination of education, practical experience, and essential skills. With the right qualifications and dedication, aspiring marketers can embark on a rewarding career path with ample opportunities for growth and advancement.

If you are looking for a marketing or business support professional, or seeking a new role yourself, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.