How to prepare for and answer competency-based interview questions

Four easy-to-follow steps for STEM professionals preparing for competency-based interviews.

Competency-based interviews are now more or less the norm. But there's no need to view them as something different and scary. By their very nature, they’re an opportunity to really demonstrate to interviewers what you’re good at, not just say what you are. Here are four tips to help you pass the interview with flying colours.

1) Write down examples beforehand

For each skill on your CV and each requirement on the job description, prepare an example to show how you’ve demonstrated that particular attribute. The interviewer is looking for practical examples of how you’ve performed tasks or displayed behaviour that is relevant to the job.

 

2) Don’t just talk about your most recent job

They don’t just want to know about your most recent role – they want to know about you, about the way you deal with things. Don’t be afraid to use examples from a previous job, education or even extra-curricular activities. You’d be surprised at how often a situation from your everyday life – juggling different responsibilities, dealing with conflict, using social media to promote a particular cause – can demonstrate how you handle things at work.

 

3) Even when you’re not asked for an example, give an example

If the interviewer asks what you’re good at or what you love doing, don’t just answer the question – tell them about a time when you showed how good you are. Make your skills come alive with real-life illustrations. Anyone can claim to be something they’re not. Talking coherently and persuasively about a time when you’ve needed to use one of those skills is a lot more convincing.

 

4) Structure your examples

Acronyms can be tedious – but this one actually works! The ‘STAR’ technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) can be a really useful way of planning your answers. Tell the interviewer what situation you found yourself in, what task you had to perform, what action you took and what the result was. Even if you decide not to present your answers this way, it will at least help you think about them in a structured manner so that you can talk about them coherently. 

 

If you need more advice on finding a new role, speak to one of our consultants to see how we can help you.

For an in-depth insight in how to prepare for a laboratory technician interview, read this guide from our scientific recruitment consultant, Katie-May Kress >

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