Competency Based Interview Questions

By now, you’re probably very familiar with the different types of interview questions that you might be asked. Our in-depth series has covered anecdotal interviews, open ended questions, and the most commonly asked interview questions. Let’s take a look at competency-based interview questions and how you can best prepare.

Though the name might be unfamiliar, you’re well-versed in competency-based experiences. A competency-based questions just asks you to explain a situation as it related to something you’ve already experienced. This gives hiring managers an opportunity to evaluate your skills and experiences and match them against the qualifications for the open position.

Generally speaking, these types of questions begin with statements that ask you to provide examples. A hiring manager is looking for how you dealt with a problem and discovered a solution. Your answer is going to allow the interviewer to gauge your mindset, and your ability to work under pressure.

As a transitioning service member, you’ve had your fair share of experience working under pressure. But with the variety of examples to choose from, it might be hard for you to prepare. Fortunately, there are some tips you can lean on to make sure you show your best and most authentic self.

Without a doubt, the best thing to do in preparing for an interview where you expect competency-based questions is to make a list. Preparing a list ahead of time will allow you to really be clear on your skills and experiences that make you the ideal fit for the role. Think about situations where you were quick to act, and your decisions helped create a lasting impact. For each situation, write down the problem and what you did to fix it.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky – you need to make sure you’re speaking in simple terms without a lot of military jargon. It can feel weird to try to explain something in civilian friendly language, but the sooner you get used to it, the better. After all, you’re probably going to be speaking to a lot of civilians in your new post-military career.

It’s also super important that you don’t present your examples as if you’re blaming someone else for their negligence or malfeasance. You might be inclined to do that to showcase your decision-making skills but what a hiring manager hears is completely different. Remember these questions are about you, not someone else. Answer in a way to keep the focus on what you did to solve the problem.

Finally, make sure you’re concise. It’s really easy to give anecdotes to your examples, but the truth is that hiring managers don’t want or need to hear it. Make sure you’re giving a clear answer to the questions with an example that’s relevant and simple to relay. Don’t select something that’s going to require a ton of backstory. All that does is cloud the question with too many details.

However, because you don’t know what kind of interview you’re going to have before you walk in the door, it can be overwhelming to prepare. The most comprehensive way to prep for an interview is to review our entire series on interview questions and then pick the tips and tricks that resonate with you the most. This will ensure you’re well-rounded and best prepared for whatever the hiring manager asks.

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