Here are our top tips for preparing for your competency/ behavioural interview questions-
- Check the information sent to you with your interview invite. If it included details of the organisation’s values, core competencies or mission statement you would do well to consider how your past performance has demonstrated that you are a good match with these.
- This type of interview will ask you to describe actions or decisions you have taken in the past. So the question might be worded like: ‘can you think of a time when you noticed a standard which wasn’t being maintained within your team? What did you do?’ or ‘can you tell us about a time where your quick thinking resulted in a positive outcome?’ You need to think about what you did and how you did it, describing this in detail to the panel.
- Break down what you think the core personal skills are for the job you are applying for. This will be things like ‘communication’ problem solving’ ‘maintaining standards’ etc. Come up with one example for each skill area you think the employer is interested in so you have a few examples already prepared in advance.
- Listen carefully to how the question is phrased to work out how to put your response. If you are asked for your opinion on something, that’s what you need to share. If you are asked to supply an example of a time when you have done something, make sure you answer the question you have been asked.
What makes this sort of questioning useful is that it gets you to explain how you have approached problems and tasks in the past, which can provide insights into how you are likely to perform once in post.
The biggest interview mistakes
You need to avoid the main mistakes that interviewees can make. Here are a few of them:
Answering questions with opinion instead of facts
For instance, ‘I believe it is important to be motivated and hardworking…’ Potential employers want to know what you did, not what you think about it.
Answering questions with facts but not evidence.
For instance, ‘I worked at xxxx Birth Centre from 2012 to 2016 as a midwife where I was responsible for assisting low risk women give birth. Then I moved to…’ Your employers want to know how you did things, not just what you did. These sorts of details will make you seem much more like a real person and not a walking CV!
Answering questions using jargon or inaccessible language.
For instance, ‘I was responsible for implementing the MAT611 system and rolling out the inter-departmental policy for safety under framework 4.7’ Even if you are applying for a move within your existing organisation, your interviewers may not be familiar with specific or new departmental protocols .
Answering ‘what have you done’ questions with hypotheticals statements
For instance ‘if I was going to be involved in xxx I would definitely do xxxx …’ Employers using this type of question want to know what you have done, not what you might do.
Not answering the question you have been asked.
Listen to what is being asked and make sure your answer matches. Don’t give the detail or example you’ve got in your head and want to cram in at all costs! Sometimes you have to tailor what you have prepared to what they are asking you about, so be ready to be flexible.
Using weak examples.
Your answer might fit with the question, but that’s not enough. It also needs to be a strong answer! avoid answering with evidence of things you did in the role which would be generally expected of you- try to find evidence of you going above and beyond what would be expected, or what most staff would do.
Being shy or overly modest.
You need to use this chance to show the panel who you are and what you can do. If you are modest about your achievements and downplay them, that is what the panel will take away from their meeting with you. If you don’t tell them what you have achieved and the difference you have made, how else are they ever going to know?