11 Great Competency Based Interview Questions [List]

11 Great Competency-Based Interview Questions

Competency-based interview questions are a type of interview questions that are often used to evaluate a candidate’s key competencies, especially when you cannot make a choice between dedicated just on the basis of technical merit.

They are also known as situational, behavioral, or just competency questions

Competency interviews can provide excellent insights into a candidate’s preferred style of working and answers to them can help you predict how a candidate will most likely behave in future situations. 

If you want to find out about a candidate’s relevant experience, professional development, personality, awareness, how they cope with pressure, and so much more. 

By asking candidates competency-based interview questions, you let them talk about the real-life challenges that they have faced and in this post, we will be exploring the best competency-based interview questions to ask candidates and choose the best one.

1. How do you and the team your work for usually identify and deliver the work which is required by your customers?


The answer to this question should tell you whether or not a candidate works well with others, whether they inspire their teammates and if they deliver their work on time. A great candidate should have great external awareness and planning skills.

Additional Read: Tips for ensuring productivity with remote workers.

2. Talk us through a situation where you had to make a decision without the input of key players who would later judge you on that decision.

tough decision

This is one of the better competency-based interview questions to see if a candidate can lead others with confidence, clarity, and passion.

You should seek out candidates that are proactive in finding solutions to problems and that can set goals, delegate when appropriate, anticipate and plan for change, and inspire others to improve their performance. 

You should also look for answers that explain how the candidate can be effective at communicating the overall vision to the team, as well as be a sensitive listener.

3. Give me an example of when you took responsibility for delivering an expected outcome while also giving credit to other teams and teammates involved in the project.


As a hiring manager, you are most likely hiring people that can motivate others to deliver work that is both on time and high quality. This is one of the best competency-based interview questions to find out whether the candidate can do that or not. 

The right candidate should have great project and time management skills and they should be self-aware.

This means that they should be able to meet deadlines, track their own progress against milestones and targets, and are aware of their own limitations and what is the trade off between the quality of work and how fast it is delivered. 

Additional reads: Personality tests for employees and candidates and Pros and const of personality assesments

4. Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation

communication skills

You should seek out employees that can listen carefully, write well, and talk persuasively. Being empathic, handling customers and teammates, and adopting their communication skills are all traits of great customers. 

Try to find out whether a candidate can talk both communicate informally and formally and be aware of which style suits them more, as that could be a huge factor in deciding whether or not to hire that candidate.

You should seek out candidates that can resolve conflicts, motivate employees, and solve problems just by using communication skills.

5. What big decision did you make recently and how did you go about it?


No matter what kind of job you’re hiring for, you should seek out candidates that use sound judgment and can keep a clear head when making decisions. 

All great candidates that can do this should excel at leading and managing others (even if this is not required by their job).

They should also have great integrity skills and they should be able to make well-informed decisions, even in difficult and time-critical situations by analyzing and evaluating all options.

6. Give me an example where you collaborated with people or teams outside your business and delivered positive results

The right candidate should be able to work in a professional way with different kinds of people and they should not have any problem with proactively building positive relationships that can deliver excellent results.

Try to find out if a candidate can work with others, if they can influence both internal and external decision-makers and if they can clearly convey their ideas both in person and asynchronously.

7. Please provide me with an example of when you delivered excellent customer service

No matter what role you are hiring for, it is most likely that a candidate has dealt with a customer directly in the past. 

Being good at customer service is a much-needed trait in 2020 and you should seek out candidates that can deploy the right mix of assertiveness and empathy both to customers and their colleagues, that can be ‘internal customers’.

Being able to provide excellent customer service in hard times (when dealing with people that have a negative attitude) can also mean that the candidate can work well under pressure, which is why this is one of the better competency-based interview questions to ask.

8. What are your weaknesses and what are you doing to address them?

You should look for candidates that answer these types of competency-based interview questions by talking about how they get the best out of the people, whether those people are their coworkers, contractors, or direct reports.

You should seek out candidates that are open to learning and that can nurture their relationships with other people and that are interested in building a knowledge culture. 

The right candidate is most likely intellectually curious and that is focused on personal learning. They can also describe a positive outcome that follows the company’s goals for all involved in a certain situation.

9. How does your current role fit into your current company’s overall goals?


Being able to strategically think is a great trait of any employee. Seeing the big picture and also having an in-depth knowledge of the organization you work in is a trait of people that are high performing and that have strong organizational awareness. 

Even if you are not hiring a senior role, hiring an employee that can evaluate how their company is doing and even come up with ways to improve it is important.

Seek out candidates that have done research about your company as that can be a great indicator of candidates that think strategically. 

If a candidate can show how they replicate a related or a previous success with the potential employee, they are most likely great at organizational awareness.

10. What was the biggest change you had to deal with at your current (or previous) job and how did you handle it?


In 2020, having employees that can innovate and improve the system is valuable. Employees that can make their organization more agile and effective are important because most organizations go through constant changes. 

This is one of the best competency-based interview questions to find if a candidate has the right mix of the ability to get things done, clear decision-making, and sensitive consultation. 

You should seek out candidates that are in touch with everything happening in your industry and that are forward and critical thinkers and that can adapt and deal with uncertainty in the company.

11. Describe a time where you made a mistake in your work. How did you find the mistake and what actions did you take to fix it?


In today’s busy world, we all make mistakes and that is perfectly fine. 

However, as a hiring manager, you should seek employees that are accurate and thorough when dealing with a task and that can demonstrate their ability to complete and organize their tasks in an effective manner. 

Try to look for candidates that answer this question by talking about being mindful about small details, that stay on top of the project, and that adhere to procedures and standards. 

A great employee should be able to manage heavy workloads, can plan and organize their resources and time effectively and provide information to others promptly and in a usable form.

Final thoughts


Asking competency-based interview questions is one of the best ways to see whether or not a candidate has the right combination of skills, experience, personality, and culture fit to work to fit in with your company. 

If you need any help with hiring, be sure to check out Recruiteze — an online recruitment software that can handle all your hiring needs with an online job board and a professional applicant tracking system that does all the hard work for you.

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