How to Answer Competency Based Interview Questions

How to Answer a competency based interview question?  I would always recommend that you use the STAR approach as this will give your answer structure and is an easy platform that you can remember, and easily follow.  The is no point in learning a job interview structure that you cannot remember or follow when answering difficult questions during your job interview.

The STAR Approach

You can find a fantastic article here with detailed instructions on how to use and remember the STAR approach but in short, the STAR approach simply stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.  When answering competency interview questions you need to make sure that you explain the situation that you were in, explain in detail the Task that you had, explain what you were actually responsible for and what the end Result was.

60% of giving a great answer to a competency interview question is making sure that you go into enough details.  The general rule for answering competency based interview questions is to keep your answer to the point, but make sure that you go into as much detail as physically possible in the couple of minutes that it will take to answer the question.


Competency Based Interview Question Examples

Below I have provided you with Four very Typical Competency Interview Questions and tried to explain how I would give answers to these questions whilst using the STAR approach.

Question – Tell me about a difficult problem that you had at work and how you were to over come this?

The interviewer is trying to test how you handle yourself in difficult situations and is looking for proof that you can tackle problems head-on and will not just bogged down.  To create a strong answer, you need to make sure that you clearly demonstrate a problem, what action you took and what the result was.

Example Answer:

  • Situation – Whilst work as a sales manager in company X, I often found it difficult to make sure that my team achieve our sales targets at the end on the month.
  • Task – I needed to improve consistency and increase the sales targets of my team
  • Action – I sought advice from the directors within the business to find out how they motivated their teams through the month.
  • Result – I implemented a number of different daily and weekly incentives over the course of the month and successfully increased my team’s sales figures by 30%.

Question – Give me an example of a difficult customer that you’ve had to deal with and how you used your skills to overcome the problem.

If you are going to going to learn an answer to one competency question, learn an answer to this question.  Candidates often freeze when confronted with the question because they cannot think of answer and the more time that goes by where you cannot think of an answer the more difficult to becomes to think of a good one.  The number one bit of advice to answer all customer based questions is to make sure that you give an answer where you resolved the problem, not where you had to refer the problem to your senior manager.


Example Answer:

  • Situation – Whilst work as a sales manager in company X, I picked up the telephone to a client who was exceptionally unhappy because they had not got their goods and were running out of stock in their shop.
  • Task – The client was very unhappy and wanted to know when their order would arrive as they urgently needed these products.  My job was solve the problem
  • Action – Firstly I listened carefully to what the customer had to say and both apologised and empathised with this situation.  I then clarified that I my understanding of the problem was correct and took responsibility to resolve the problem with the client.  I gave the client, both my mobile number and email address and made it known to the client that they could call me directly any time they had a problem and I would do my best to resolve it.
  • For the current problem, I offered a solution by personally finding out what had happened to their original order.  It turns out that their order was lost in the system and would take another week to be delivered.  As a temporary measure I offered the client some alternatives and would be to send a much smaller order directly to the client today which would give them enough stock to cover the this period until the main (much larger) order would arrive.
  • Result – I confirmed this solution was acceptable by the customer and both followed up to make sure that the smaller order arrive by the end of the day and the much larger order arrived by the end of the week.  I followed up with the client after both orders had arrived and ensured the customer was happy with the products.  The customer was very happy with my service and professional approach and promised to contact me directly again when they wanted to make their next order.

After being in communication for a few months with the customer, I managed to meet the customer in person and introduce them to three other business lines which they also included in their next order, therefore increasing the value of further orders by 45%.

Question – Tell Me About a Situation Where you lead a Team?

This is a great example of a competency based interview question where the interviewer is trying to understand how you relate, manage, motivate a team to ensure that you get tasks completed on time.  Ultimately this question tests your leadership skills.  As with all competency based interview questions you need to use the STAR approach.  Whilst you should spend time describing the situation, you need to make sure that you really focus on your role as the leader.  Watch out that you tell the story with you as the leader and not the dictator.

Example Answer:

  • Situation – During my last year at College, I was responsible for managing a number of business events aimed towards potential employers coming to our college to meet with graduates who were going to start looking for jobs in the summer.
  • Task – I noticed that the numbers of both Students and Potential Employers to these events had been dropping over the years and wanted to do change this and ensure that future events were more successful.
  • Action – I designed a new promotional package that we could send out to employers and local business within the city outlining what we were doing and the location.  I made sure I included both the address and a Map seeing as the location of our networking event was quite hard to find.  I also designed a promotional leaflet for the students, which I had sent around to all the students that were graduating at the end of the year making them aware that this networking event was taking place.
  • Result – I result was brilliant and we had a 25% increase in the number of employers visiting our college and a 60% increase in the number of students that attended the event.  I also designed a “feed-back” form, which we passed out to both students and employers asking for feedback on how the event went and what improvements we should make for the following year.  The feedback was collected and I passed this information onto the next president of the business club.

Question – Tell me about a situation where you worked in a Team?

Where in the above question you were asked about leading a team, this question focuses on your personal team involvement.  In your working career there will often be times where you have to work in a group where you might not be the leader even if you are the owner of the company.  This question is often asked instead of the question, are you a team player?  Given that 99% of candidates answer this question with a simple Yes.

Example Answer:

  • Situation – During my time working on the shop floor we would often have busy periods of the day or year where we need everyone to pull together and help out.  An example would be around Lunchtime during the week when people got out of work and needed to quickly pick up a few things..
  • Task – My job was to manage and lead the shop, however in these peak times, I had to roll my sleeves up and help out.
  • Action – During these peak times, I helped out to make sales for my colleagues and make sure that we did not miss any sales to our competitors.
  • Result – We were able to increase sales by 10% simply down to all pulling together during these peak hours, without increasing costs.  I also leant that by helping out with the team during these peak hours, I did not have to increase my costs my hiring more people and helping out the shop floor team rather than simply focusing on my own goals made for a much better working environment.

12 Common Candidate Mistakes in Competency Based Interviews

Interviews in general are notorious for bring out the nerves in candidates, particularly candidates who have not prepared or do not have much experience. Competency based interviews are made worse because they really require you to think and create a story before you answer a question. Often the question will be obscure or have an answer that really requires a “one word answer.


You will not be the first or the last person to badly fail a competency based interview. Yours truly failed a competency based interview in the early part of his career. I think it was one of the first interviews I had ever been to after graduating University. I remember meeting the interviewer, I remember the first couple of questions, which I thought went well and then they asked me “Give me an example where you have gathered lots of information, analyzed it and written a report” and my mind went blank. Nothing….. the fact that I had literally just finished my thesis, which would have been a great answer, was nowhere to be seen.

Needless to say the interview went from bad to worse and the within a minutes I was a complete mess. I badly failed that interview.

Competency Based Interviews

Below are my Top 12 Mistakes to make sure that you don’t fall apart in your next competency based Job Interview.

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Prepare for your Interview or Prepare to Fail. Guess what, I did not do any preparation, I did not know what to expect and quite frankly deserved to fail that interview. Preparing for the interview means reading as much as you can find on competency based interviews. Question, Answers, Mock Interviews, How to Answer Interview Questions, about the company and anything else you can find.


You need to make sure that you read and have a think about as many Competency based Interview Questions as you can before your interview. My advice is to try and find as many questions as possible, but also look at and read the answers to the sample questions. This way you can get an idea of how to answer the question. Remember, DO NOT LEARN answers to competency based interview questions parrot fashion as you will need to make sure that you give answers in your own words. I could not answer a question in exactly the same way as you could and I am sure its vice-versa.

Learn how to answer a competency based interview. My advice is the Learn the STAR approach to answering interview question and make sure that you follow it with each question that you answer. The STAR approach means that you follow a set structure when answering each question that creates a great story which is a key part of answering competency based interview questions and stops you from missing a bit or going off on a tangent.

Ask what competencies will be tested before your interview. If you know what competencies will be tested in advance then you will be able to tailor your answers to what the interviewer is looking for. One of the best reasons for using a recruiter to help you with your job search is because they will be able to advise you on this. If you are not using a recruiter then you must make sure you ask before your interview.

Before you start an answer to any question, pause for a few seconds to think. 99.9% of the time, the candidates that stop and think for a few second about an answer before speaking produce much better answers than those that just jump right in. Pausing to think can also be a sign of maturity which is a good thing. Therefore, even if you have a great answer to a question, I would always recommend that the candidate pause and take a deep breath before answering.


When answering a competency based interview question it’s important to use the word “I” as much as possible. In a competency based interview, you’re tested on what you actually did and what role you played within the task. You need to make sure that your sentences start with “I”, however there is a major difference between saying “I” within your answers and sounding like a dictator where all your answers start with “I told this person to do this.” No one wants to work with a dictator.

60% of giving a good answer in a competency based interview is making sure that you have a good story as an example. This is something that you can prepare in advance so make sure that you prepare a selection of different stories that you can use as examples. Often where candidates go wrong in a competency based interview is they do not have any stories prepared beforehand and therefore have to think of an example before answering the question.

If creating a good story to answer your competency based interview is 60%, then 30% is going into the small details. To really answer a competency based interview question well you will need to go into details whilst showing your experience in different situations. One of the usual complaints from an interviewer is that the candidate did not use examples related to their personal work experience.

The last 10% of answering a question is to make sure that you answer the question. Often candidates give a really good answer, but have not really answered the question and therefore are marked down.

Remember to think outside of the box when answering competency based interview questions. Often candidates, especially those in back office or support functions struggle to think of answers to situation based questions. An example – I once asked a finance support professional the question “tell me about a difficult customer that you had to deal with?” His response was that he worked in finance and did not deal with customers. Actually after a few follow up questions it turns out that he had spoken with customers in the past when dealing with invoicing enquiries, however if your faced with this question then think outside of work. Have you ever had a problem with a babysitter or a waiter when paying a bill at a restaurant?

Remember to Ask Questions at the end of your interview. Candidates, always forget this and just because it’s a slightly different interview structure think they don’t need to ask questions. You do, so have some prepared. An obvious question would be, how did I do, but there are others here.

Stay Calm – Where I really went wrong in my competency based interview was to panic which made trying to think of answers to the next question even more difficult. I appreciate that staying calm during an interview is far easier said than done, but if you prepare as much as possible in advance, familiarize yourself with the interview format, get a good night’s sleep and turn up in advance of the interview then you give yourself the best possible chance.


Curriculum Vitae

Interview Tips That Will Help You Get the Job

Job interview can be very tough or frightening even though you went for several such interviews in the past. Interview is just like selling yourself for the job showcasing all your talent and skills. It is all about presenting skills and proving yourself right for the job. It is important to stay enthusiastic and upbeat throughout the interview to crack it or get positive vibe from the panel. Here are some job interview tips that can prove to be effective. Proper preparation and right technique will alleviate stress involved in the job interview. It will be a cake walk no matter how complicated or important interview you face.


Practice common and frequent interview questions that are generally asked by every employer. Think of any particular process so that you can highlight all your skills in that short span of time. Provide all evidence of your success which can help your candidacy. Try to act smart and confident no matter how serious the interview is.


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Do proper homework and study all relevant facts related to the company or employer. Get necessary knowledge about the company and be aware of every aspect the company deals with. There is internet which can help your provide all details related to any company or group, if not available call them prior to interview and learn more about the company.

Get Ready

Always remember to attire tidy, neat and perfect uniform for your interview. Bring attractive portfolio and several copies of your resume alongside. Keep a note and pen for taking down all important points. This all creates a good impression and sets the tone up for the candidate.

Reach on Time


It is always important to be on time. If possible reach ten to fifteen minutes before your time so that you can settle yourself and feel confident. Moreover it creates a good impression as it showcases your punctuality.

Stay Calm

When the interview is on process stay calm, it may be difficult but never get panicked. Your body language and attitude speaks a lot. If you are shivering or feeling the tension from within your body language will reveal everything. So make sure you are careful and maintain a good eye contact with the interviewer. Carefully listen every question and take your time before answering confidently.

Show them your knowledge


It is important to present your knowledge and answer everything confidently. There are some members in the panel who checks up your presentation skill and confidence. So keep all such points whenever you answer any question. Try to match with the requirement that the company is looking for.

Follow up

It is important to follow up with thank you note, it is an impressive gesture. These smallest of things can make a huge impact. If there are multiple interviewers, send each one separate thank you note.

Avoid some common mistakes

There are some mistakes, blunders as well as errors that every candidate commits while facing the interview. Make sure you avoid all such common mistakes and be confident.

How to Become a Professional Fitness Instructor?

With time so many new professions are coming up, professional fitness instructor is one such in the list. Apart from being personally rewarding, fully fledged career in fitness gives every individual that independence and flexibility to grow with the industry. However getting started is the most important thing as there are nearly 300 certification program available in the market. Here are six processes that can help you to become a professional fitness instructor.

Get familiar with the craft

At the very beginning it is important to attend few fitness classes to decide whether the career is appropriate for you or not. This will help you to give the direction regarding the profession and its several aspects. Try different fitness classes to feel confident about your comfort zone. Try with mind body classes, aquatic classes, bodyweight training classes, dance fitness classes and strength training classes. Accordingly you can learn what is best and which is trending in the industry.

group training

Select a certification

Before starting a fitness class it is important to have a certification. Certification is a proof that you are skilled and knowledgeable in the field, which is quite necessary in every field. Unless you are professionally trained and thorough about fitness classes no one will feel the urge to attend your fitness sessions. Now when selecting the certification makes sure you get it from the best in the industry. Having certification from NCCA will give several employment opportunities and facilities. Most employers use it for identifying qualified candidate from the unqualified ones.

Find the right mentor

It is important to have an admirer from the industry who can help you in all possible means. Find someone who has a devoted class following. Finding someone who is in the same profession will help you teach every bit of the work, eventually lead you to discover yourself. Later on while starting your profession as a full-fledged trainer you can incorporate such elements of perfect fitness trainer. Feel free to ask for advices.

Get Job

As reported by JackedGorilla.Com, The next step is to get the right job where you can showcase your talent. You can now apply for qualified position where there is opening for professional fitness instructor or gym instructors. Stay in touch with all health and fitness clubs around your place. There are different places where you can apply such as corporations, community centers, universities, country clubs and hospitals.

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Market yourself

It is important to market yourself so that you can get the right deal. It has been found that effective tool for marketing in this profession is to spread the word. Try making contact with health and fitness clubs promote yourself as professional fitness instructor with certification. Offering free classes is an effective way to attract new customers and getting market exposure.

Stay relevant

The fitness industry is constantly changing and some new techniques are always coming up. Hence it is important to stay updated with new trending techniques and fitness sessions. As a professional fitness instructor it is quite important to keep up with the market trend and grasp every new fitness program as quickly as possible.