Preparing for a Competency Based Interview


guidance and advice, job search

When it comes to acing an interview, preparation is key but do you know the difference between a panel interview and a competency-based one? A one-to-one or a virtual interview?

Here we focus on preparing for a competency-based interview.

A competency-based interview focuses specifically on the skills required for a particular role. The interview will be carefully designed to test your knowledge, skills and understanding of each set question which will usually correspond to a certain aspect of the role.

These interviews are a lot more structured than a general interview in that the interviewer will have to follow a list of set questions and your answers will be marked against a predeveloped framework. In order to be successful, you’ll need to reach a certain score in the marking.

Many people find this style of interview difficult because success or failure is determined entirely on the score. Unlike general interviews, there is no merit given for personality and no lenience if you are nervous on the day.

Equally, every candidate is in the same boat and competency interviews are considered to be a fair way of hiring because there is less room for subjectivity from an interviewer.

There are plenty of ways to prepare for a competency-based interview in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Read and understand the Job Description

The essence of a competency-based interview is to determine whether you have the skills and ability to do the job you are applying for. For that reason, the questions will be shaped according to the skills featured in the job description. Use this as your blueprint when planning ahead. Go through every skill and requirement that is listed and ensure you have an example to demonstrate a time you have utilised this skill.

Know your strengths

Before any interview it is important that you clearly define your strengths. In an unstructured interview you may be asked to outline them directly and while you won’t be able to be as blunt in a competency based interview, it’s important that they are at the forefront of your mind so you can refer to them in all of your answers. it is best to have multiple examples of each strength, referring to, where possible, different scenarios. For example; different job roles, volunteering you may have done or even outside of the workplace to show how transferrable your skills are.

Structuring your answers

As mentioned previously, the interviewer is looking for specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated each skill so a good way to think about each answer is using the STAR structure.

Situation/Task – explain the situation that you found yourself in and what needed to be done. Eg: A customer was unhappy that their car had not been repaired by the date/time agreed.

Action – Tell the interviewer how you handled the situation and be specific! EG: you explained to the customer that you’d look into it as a matter of urgency, maybe you arranged a temporary vehicle for them or offered a discount on the cost of repair as a gesture of goodwill.

Result – What was the result of your actions? EG: the customer accepted the offer and left the garage satisfied that they had a solution.


Practice makes perfect. Remember that writing something down or preparing it in your head doesn’t always mean it’ll sound the way you want it to. The best tip is to prepare your answers and then read them out loud. Not only is this a helpful way of remembering them, it will ensure they are clear and concise.

Believe in yourself

Try to calm any pre-interview nerves and remember that all the work you’ve put in to preparing for the interview will be a fantastic benefit! Have confidence in the fact that you have reached the interview stage and that you have the skills and competencies to do the job.

Good luck!

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Our team of Automotive Recruitment Consultants all share a passion for finding candidates the best jobs in the Automotive Industry. So if you are looking to improve your career and want to hear about more Motor Trade Sales Jobs in your local area, please get in touch with us today.