Competency Based Interviews – Revealing the mystery

Competency based interviews are now commonly used by employers and recruiters in all industries. The automotive industry is no exception. But many job seekers have never faced a competency based interview and may not even understand what it is. It this sounds like you – read on. In this article we will explain what a competency based interview is and how to prepare for it.


Competency-based interviews use questions that target a specific skill or competency. The interview will ask you questions which seek a specific example of behaviour in specific circumstances. Next you need to back this up with situational examples.

Examples of Competency Based questions:

  • ‘Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with a difficult or unhappy customer’?
  • ‘Give an example of when you have made a decision that you didn’t want to make’?

These questions will be directly linked to the position that you are being interviewed for. They will be aimed at testing how your skills match the requirements of the role. Questions will be varied and could potentially include any desired skills for the job.

For sales roles these may include:  customer service, relationship building, negotiation, new business development, presentation, influencing skills etc.

Marketing roles they may include: copy-writing, agency management, planning, budgeting, measurement of ROI, analysis of data, social media etc.

Management and leadership roles they may include: team management, coaching, motivation of people, planning, influencing, presentation, budgeting etc.


Read the job description thoroughly. Discuss it with the recruiter or your recruitment consultant. Try to identify what the key required competencies are.

For each competency:

  • Think of 1 or 2 examples drawn from your previous work experience. These should demonstrate your competency (ability) in that area.
  • Make sure your answers have context, are always in the 1st person and explain the outcome.
  • Write down your examples – it will help you remember them in an interview situation.


  • Answer with examples of something you personally have done. Use ‘I’ in your sentences and not ‘we’.
  • Make sure your example is relevant to the position you are being interviewed for. For example, if an interviewer asks you about communication skills for a role in sales, use an example from a sales situation. 
  • If possible, use figures in your example. For example ‘my actions directly caused an increase in profit of 5% over the year’
  • Follow the C. A. R structure (another similar structure used is STAR: Situation, Task, Action Result).
CONTEXTWhen and where did this situation take place? What role were you doing and what background information can you provide?
ACTIONWhat did you do to manage the situation at the time? How did you behave?
RESULTWhat happened in this situation? Did you make a difference or add value? What did you learn from this situation?

Further Reading:

How To Prepare For Your Interview

Write a Great CV

How to succeed in interview psychometric tests

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