Competency-Based Interviews: Are You Prepared?

A competency-based interview can be a daunting concept. In these meetings, technology candidates need to give specific examples of times in which they demonstrated specific traits or skills. Questions require interviewees to describe situations and problems, followed by the actions they took to find a resolution and the results of the situation.  

Competency-based questions give companies a chance to evaluate a person’s mindset and approach to work, revealing information that doesn’t appear on a CV. These questions go beyond exploring a tech employees skill working with software or device and distinguish what that person will be like as a new hire.  

The good news? The right preparation can ensure that you are ready to amaze your would-be new manager with the perfect competency-based interview.  


What Are Competency-Based Interviewers Looking For? 



Different organisations need different competencies. While soft skills remain essential for every business, such as the ability to work as a team, specific industries will be looking for evidence of expertise in particular areas. For instance, your hiring manager might ask questions which prompt you to demonstrate your: 

  • Technical knowledge: The IT industry relies on candidates having perfect technical skills – whether they are focused on cloud computing, Salesforce marketing, or coding. A competency-based interview allows you to highlight the measurable value of your experience.
  • Problem-solving abilities: The agile pace of things like salesforce and digital marketing industries mean that today’s organisations need to be able to adapt and evolve quickly. Tech hires must be able to respond to everyday challenges quickly, and creatively, using their unique background to aid them.
  • Analytical thinking: Technology has made the analysis of data easier than ever. However, a technology employee will still need to figure out how to use the information gathered by a business in a productive, and lucrative way.  

How to Prepare for Your Competency-Based Interview 

Preparing for a competency-based interview is all about finding the best way to demonstrate the skills your new manager might be looking for.  

To get started, speak to your specialist technology recruitment agency about the business you’re applying to work for. They can provide you with useful information about the company that you can use to predict your competency-based questions.  

For instance, if you learn that the brand you want to work with is highly-focused on company culture, then you can assume they’re going to want to know about your ability to work with other tech staff members.  

You can also look at the job description. For instance, an employer looking for a salesforce consultant is sure to be searching for someone who demonstrates a strong knowledge of the software, and a passion for technology.  


Expect a Structured Approach  

It is also worth noting that your competency-based interview will not be the same as other interviews you have had with organisations in the past. These discussions follow a highly-structured format, designed to give interviewers all the information they need about a candidate.  

For instance, an employer may say: “Tell me about a time when you used a specific technology process to solve a problem”. Then, you would need to highlight a specific situation in a previous career or position where you came up with a resolution to benefit the business.  

It’s easy to get off-track when answering competency-based questions, so before you start speaking, think of a specific example of a situation you can use to demonstrate essential skills for your role. By focusing on one example, you can keep your answer clear, concise, and on-topic.  


Use the Star Approach to Shine  



The easiest way to respond to the structure and focus of a competency-based interview is to have a plan of action for creating the perfect answer. The “STAR” acronym is a useful tool that can remind you of each point you need to cover in a response: 

  • S: Situation – Describe the situation or challenge you faced. 
  • T: Task – Explain what needed to be done to reach your goal. 
  • A: Action – Express what you did personally, and how you contributed to a positive outcome. 
  • R: Result – Thoroughly cover how your work led to a positive result for the organisation. 

Following this structure and practicing your answers before-hand will help you to feel more confident then next time you are in a competency-based interview.  

While you might not be able to prepare for anything your interview will bring, you can take steps to ensure that you are prepared, succinct, and professional on the day.  


About Resource On Demand 

Resource on Demand is Europe’s first specialist Salesforce Recruitment Company, now also focusing on growth Cloud markets.  

We assist innovative and disruptive organisations to grow their technology teams. Supporting companies to fill Cloud roles that span across Digital Marketing, Marketing Automation, Human Capital Management and the growing suite of skills. 

The team at Resource on Demand have access to an extensive database of key talent, registering over 8000 Cloud professionals each year.  

To find out how we can support you call us on +44 20 8123 7769 

How to Answer Those’s Really Tough Interview Questions

Enjoying a successful interview in today’s competitive technology job market can be a challenging feat. If you want to be prepared for your next interview, then you need to know how to answer the complex, questions your hiring manager is likely to ask the next time you apply for the job of a lifetime.  

Hiring managers aren’t picking complicated questions to stress you out or throw you off your game. Remember, like you’re looking for the perfect role, the company you’re interviewing with are looking for the ideal candidate. Those tough questions are your interviewer’s chance to get a deeper understanding of who you are, and what makes you a good fit for the organisation.  

Here, we’ll look at 5 tough interview questions, and how you can answer them.  


1. Questions About Co-workers: “How Did You Feel About Your Last Team?”

Most staff members won’t work in a silo, disconnected from the rest of the business. That means that when your hiring manager wants to see how you’ll work as part of a team, they’ll ask about your previous experiences with other employees. For instance, they might ask, “How did you feel about the people you worked with in your last role?” 

The key here is to stay away from negative answers. If you don’t have anything positive to say about your old coworkers, be honest and professional in your reply, such as: “We had a few debates on how individual projects should be handled; it’s natural I guess. I have always been a team player. In fact, on my last project I…” 

Emphasise how you developed your rapport building skills to connect with colleagues who communicated and worked in a different way to yourself.

Give examples of project teams that you were part of and what roles you had in the various teams
and what the outcomes of the projects were.

Remember that any interviewing manager knows that not everyone in a team will be ‘best friends’. What they are looking for is how you handle situations.


2. Questions About Failure: “Tell Me About a Time When You Didn’t Succeed”

During any interview experience, the hiring manager you speak to will want to assess your abilities, and how you’re going to impact the existing team, you are soon to be a part of. Though they’ll want to see examples of your achievements, and the things you might have accomplished in the past, they’ll also be interested in finding out how you respond to failure.  

No-one wins all the time.  

The key to being successful with your answers here is to think about how you can discuss what you learned from your mistakes. Explain how a previous situation went wrong, then tell your interviewer how you adapted to the experience, and what you’ve done to reduce the risk of similar problems occurring in the future. For instance, if you didn’t meet a deadline to implement a programme on time because a client was too vague with their specifications, you might have come up with a more intuitive way to ask for briefs from future customers.


3. Questions About Weakness: “Describe Your Biggest Flaw?”

This is another interview question that can be complicated and a challenge to answer. When you’re trying to make sure that you show your most “hireable” side to the business, it can seem counterproductive to highlight your flaws. However, with this question, your hiring manager is looking to see that you’re willing to accept your development areas and deal with them.  

Avoid telling your interviewer that you don’t have any shortcomings, or offer vague answers like “I’m a perfectionist”. Instead, be honest about the things that you’re not great at. Try to choose a something that isn’t going to be a deal breaker based on what you learned from the job description, then show the company that you’re currently focused on a process of self-development, intended to help you improve your skills and abilities.  


4. Questions About Motivation:

The purpose of an interview is for employers to understand more about candidates and how they will fit into the company culture as well as their fit for a role. A part of this will be finding out more about who you are, and what motivates you towards success.

Contrary to what many people think, salary isn’t the No 1 motivator. Yes, we all need it to support ourselves and families, and there is far more to this question.

The most common question you will be asked is “What motivates you?”, sometimes you may hear, “What’s important to you about the job you do and your career?”

This kind of question explore your “values”, and the interviewer is looking to see if your own personal values align with the values of the company you are applying to work for.

Examples of what motivates individuals are;  

  • Having interesting and meaningful work 
  • Being able to use their skills fully 
  • Opportunities to contribute outside their primary role responsibilities 
  • Development opportunities 
  • Working alone, or with others depending on the role 
  • Achieving goals 
  • Seeing a career pathway 
  • Personal and team recognition 
  • Having close working relationships with colleagues 
  • Flexible working opportunities 
  • Working with an inspiring manager 

While it can be easy to check out your prospective employer’s values on their website and
talk about things that relate to these values, if you don’t share these values
you are at risk of talking yourself into a role and company that you are likely to be unhappy in.

Be clear at the outset of any interview what is important to you about a new role and the company.


5. Questions about Goals: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years”

Most employers want to know that the people that they hire have ambitions and passion. In other words, have an idea of what you want to accomplish not just in general, but in the context of your potential new role within a team.

Think about where you’d like your career to go if you were offered the job, and what you could do to improve your chances of reaching your own personal career aspirations. For instance, if you’re hoping to be a team leader in three years, how are you going to make that a reality? 

Although there’s nothing wrong with talking about how the company in question could support you to achieve your goals; don’t make it sound like your future rests entirely on your new employer’s shoulders. It’s up to you to make sure you can drive your own career growth. 

Do You Have Any Questions?

Digital Marketing RecruitmentAt the end of most interviews, the interviewer will ask whether or not you have any questions for them about the company or any aspect of working life there. As both recruitment specialists and employers ourselves, we know that the worst response to this question is “no”. In this blog post we’ll be looking at why asking questions in interviews is extremely important for your career.

Why is asking questions so important?

Asking questions at the end of an interview is important for many reasons. Firstly, it shows that you are interested to learn more about the company you are looking to join. When attending an interview, put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. Does someone who has no questions to ask at the end of their interview strike you as someone that is determined to do the best they can in their new role? Probably not. When you think about job seekers that get to the end of their interviews and have questions already prepared, are you more likely to see them as eager to learn more about their new role and the company than those that don’t? The answer in nearly every case is an overwhelming yes.

In digital marketing recruitment, it is important that job seekers understand what employers are looking for in applicants. By asking the questions you want answered, you are helping to gain a better grasp of what will be expected of you should you be successful in your interview.

Another reason asking questions is important, is to demonstrate to any potential employer that you have a passion for what you do. These are the types of people employers want to hire into their companies and asking questions at the end of your interview can demonstrate to your interviewer that you are indeed one of these people.

Questions to avoid asking

No one wants to be labelled as a “clock watcher”, and no one want to employ “clock watchers” either. Therefore, it is important, to remember that asking questions about pay, lunch, holiday and work hours are, more often than not, a bad idea. We’re not saying that you cannot ask these questions, but don’t make these your ONLY questions. Solely asking these types of questions, could potentially harm your chances of being offered a position should your interviewer pick up on this.

Questions to ask

Questions about the company’s history, previous and future projects / clients and the opportunity for progression are usually a good idea as they demonstrate to your interviewer that you have given the interview serious thought and are looking to gain as much insight into your potential new employers as possible. Remember to listen carefully to the responses and ask for the interviewer to elaborate wherever possible, about interesting bits of information.

Also, don’t forget to use this as a opportunity to do some fact-finding of your own.  Ask them what a typical day might look like, or what the team are like, such as your future colleagues backgrounds etc., what are their unique selling points and so on. The chances are you will like find out the answers to the questions you should avoid asking, without actually having to ask them.

So there we have it, never underestimate the power of asking questions, in order to show an interest in the company you’re hoping to work for, and for demonstrating your passion for the industry you are in.

Resource On Demand (ROD) is Europe’s first specialist Salesforce Recruitment Agency. Their specialist areas of recruitment include; Salesforce (SFDC); digital marketing and marketing automation technologies; Human Capital Management (HCM) technologies. For more information contact ROD on or on 020 8123 7769.