When I started out in my accounting career over 40 years ago, job interviews were different.
Back then you were more than likely to be asked questions where you had to explain how you would handle a situation.
These questions weren’t bad questions.
The trouble with them was that they weren’t great at separating the candidates that had real life experience and those who had a theoretical understanding.
Over time competency based job interview questions became more common.
The big difference with these type of questions really encouraged people to share real life experiences, examples and stories.
Instead of asking what would you do, the focus of questions is on getting candidates to explain what they did in a real life situation.
So instead of asking what would you do if you had a team member who wasn’t performing, you would ask tell us about a time when you dealt with a team member who wasn’t performing.
The competency based question requires you to describe the situation.
It requires you to outline the task.
It requires you to give detail of the actions you took, the barriers you encountered and how you addressed them.
It requires you to share the result you achieved.
By using this type of question the hiring manager can see what candidates have experience and those who don’t.
Using examples of how you dealt with real life examples of tricky or demanding situations are really powerful.
The reason why candidates don’t always maximise the benefit of them is usually because:
- They haven’t given enough thought to examples.
- If they have given thought, they haven’t written out their examples in some detail
- If they have written out examples they haven’t practised speaking them, hoping that they will just be able to pull it off on the day of the interview.
Examples are powerful and may well just be the thing that makes the difference between job offer and rejection.