Interview Tips – Competency Based Interviews

Oct 18, 2021

Interview Tips – Competency Based Interviews

If you are in the process of applying for fire and security jobs, you might find that you have to take some competency-based interviews to land your dream job. These interviews can sometimes throw you off a little, so you’ll want to know what to expect in order to do your best in this type of interview. Let’s take a look at what you can expect during a competency-based interview to help you achieve success this year.


Competency-Based Interviews – What Are They? 

Before we go any further, let’s clarify what a competency-based interview is. This type of interview is more structured than a typical interview, and it’s designed to test out the competencies that are required for the fire and security job you are applying for. You’ll find that the interviewer has a list of questions, which are all based on certain skills you need for the job. The answers you give are then marked against criteria that are pre-set, resulting in an overall score that will determine if you progress in the interview process. 

Typical interviews are generally much less structured than competency-based interviews. They focus on holding a normal conversation, allowing a good flow of conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. These questions are often asked in a more random manner, whereas competency-based interviews are much more structured and systemic. They focus on communication, adaptability, awareness of the industry, decisiveness, leadership, and problem-solving. These categories are just a few that you can expect to be covered, but they’ll depend on the job you are applying for. Expect management and leadership jobs to focus on this area more, as they’ll need to ensure you are suitably skilled for this type of role. 

Examples of Competency-Based Interview Questions 

There are many questions you could be asked in a competency-based interview. These will vary between companies, but you can be expected to describe situations and give examples of times where certain situations have occurred in your life. As a leader, you might be asked to describe when you lead a team or how you handle conflict in your workplace. You will also be asked to discuss teamwork and share how you maintain good relationships within a team. The interviewer will likely ask you about your biggest achievements and how you have met different goals in your career so far. Before your interview, take the time to think about some of the best achievements and examples you can share in an interview, so you are ready to use these in answering different questions. 

Use the STAR Method to Answer Questions 

Now that you have an idea about what you can expect from a competency-based interview, it’s time to think about how to answer these questions. We recommend using the STAR method, which focuses on situation, task, action, and result. This method allows you to concisely answer questions, which is one problem we noticed with this type of interview. 

You’ll start by clearly sharing the situation or task you were given and the aim of this task. From there, you will go on to discuss the actions that are needed in order for you to succeed in this area. This then leads to you sharing the result, which will showcase your achievement and what you learnt from that time. By using this method, you’ll find that you have a good structure to use to answer any question. Instead of rambling on about various past achievements until you reach the end of your story, there will be a lot more focus within your answer to the question you were asked. 

When you use this method to answer competency-based questions, you’ll find that you can answer questions in a way that makes it easier for the interviewer to score you highly. They have a very set list of answers they are looking for, and you’ll find with more structure, they’ll be able to give you the points you deserve. If you find yourself struggling to find examples, think back to past times where you’ve achieved success as a worker or leader. Take your time to answer each question with the STAR method, and you’ll find that you come out of this interview feeling great about all you’ve achieved. 

By learning more about the STAR method and the types of questions you might be asked in a competency-based interview, you’ll prepare yourself for success in any future interview. We recommend testing some of these questions at home beforehand so that you have a good idea of how you would answer them if they do come up. Remember, you don’t need to have a lot of experience in order to do well in this type of interview. Focus on your past personal achievements and education if needed, and you’ll soon find that you will win over any interviewer within the fire and security industry