In the past it was common place to be asked hypothetical questions in job interviews.
You know the type where you were asked what you would do in a given situation.
While these questions had their place it was very easy for people with little or no experience to come across convincingly in job interviews.
In other words they were great at test knowledge but not very good for testing competency.
These days the majority of interviews make a lot of use of competency based questions.
For anyone not familiar with this type of question they typically ask you to tell them about a time, give an example or describe a situation.
So a classic one is tell us about a time when you dealt with a difficult colleague (or it could be a difficult customer or client).
My own view is that these type of questions are excellent from a candidate perspective.
What I do notice is that a lot of accountants and professional people struggle when it comes to answering these questions.
Do a poor job at setting the scene or providing the context.
Go into too much detail or worst still don’t go into enough detail about what they did and the skills they used.
Do a poor job in summarising the result or outcome.
So what’s the way to overcome these issues?
Let’s take the analogy of a hamburger.
You have the bun which holds the hamburger.
Think of the top of the bun as your scene setting or context setting for the example you are going to use.
Think of the bottom of the bun as your summary of the result you achieved.
Think of the hamburger itself as being the meat of your answer.
The part where you talk about what you actually did, the skills you used, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them and the personal qualities that enabled you to achieve a positive outcome.
If you have structured your answers to some of the most common things you will be asked to demonstrate competency (hint- most of them are laid out in detail in the job description and person specification) then performing well on the day becomes a whole lot easier.
The real benefit is that your chances of being seriously considered for and ideally offered the job is greatly increased.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.