Back

Competency-Based Interview Questions: Practice Bank

Elsewhere we have written about the competency-based interview and how to structure your answers to do well. We also included some examples of basic questions and included guidance on how to tackle each question.

Building on this, we thought it would be useful to provide even more challenging competency questions.

Working through these will ensure you are prepared for every possible eventuality, and you can tackle your next job interview with even greater confidence.

Click here to subscribe

1. Decision Making & Problem Solving

These questions are designed to assess your judgement and expertise in making effective decisions and keeping the customer at the heart of all you do.

Q. Describe a time when you have developed an innovative solution to a problem.

  • Why did you think the problem needed a new solution? 
  • How did you develop the new solution? 
  • Who did you need to convince about your idea?  
  • What feedback did you receive on how it was working?

Q. Can you give me an example of a time when you have challenged and supported someone to do things differently? 

  • What was the situation? 
  • What did you do? 
  • What was the outcome? 
  • What do you think they learned from you?

Q. Imagine that you see a colleague working in a way that seems inefficient. What approach would you take to trying to improve this situation?

  • How would you persuade them to change their approach? 
  • How would you deal with any resistance encountered? 
  • How would you ensure that a more efficient approach was adopted for the future?

Q. Describe the last time you worked on a project that required you to analyse complex information. 

  • What decision were you trying to reach? 
  • How did you go about analysing the information? 
  • What patterns, trends or insight did you identify?
  • How did these inform your proposed solution?
  • What was the outcome?

Q. Describe a time you had to make a difficult business decision in order to make things better, simpler or cheaper in your area of the business. 

  • What were the key factors in the decision? 
  • Why was the decision difficult?
  • Talk me through how you made the decision
  • What was the outcome?

Q. Describe a big decision you have had to make without having all the necessary information.

  • Talk me through how you made the decision 
  • What information was missing? Why was it missing? 
  • What were the key factors in the decision?
  •  What was the outcome?

Q. Describe a situation that required you to take a risky decision quickly.

  • What factors did you consider? 
  • How did you assess the risks involved? 
  • How comfortable were you making this decision? 
  • On reflection, was it a good decision? How do you know?

Q. Describe a time when you had to overcome an obstacle to find a solution for a particular client.

  • How did you establish what the clients’ needs and expectations were?
  • What obstacle did you have to overcome? 
  • What did you do? 
  • How do you know that the client was fully satisfied?

2. Innovation / Creative Thinking

This section aims to measure your openness to new ideas and ability to lead the business for the future.

Q. Talk me through the steps you would take to implement a process improvement or a more innovative way of completing a task.

  • How would you persuade others to take your idea on board?
  • What obstacles do you think you would face? 
  • How would you ensure the change was accepted?

Q. Give me an example of a time when you have spotted a business opportunity.

  • What was this opportunity? 
  • Why did you think it was worthwhile?
  • What was the outcome?

Q. Give me an example of a time when you developed a new or different solution to a problem.

  • Why did you think the problem required a new solution? 
  • How did you develop the new solution? 
  • What feedback did you receive on how it was working?

Q. How do you ensure that you keep abreast of development in our industry, to prevent your thinking from becoming stale?

  • What are our competitors doing at the moment that impresses you?
  • What do you think our biggest external influences will be in the next 5 years? 
  • How do you encourage and support your team to innovate?

Q. What is your most essential development need?

  • How do you know?
  • What are you doing about it?
  • What progress are you making?

3. Collaboration

These questions explore how effective you are in working with people across the business to achieve shared success.

Q. Tell me about a time you have needed to build a strong network in order to be effective in your role.

  • How did you approach this?
  • What was the outcome?
  • How do you ensure you are connected to others in the business?

Q. Tell me about a time when you found it challenging to build an effective working relationship with a client or colleague.

  • How did you deal with this?
  • To what degree did you adapt your approach to others?
  • What efforts did you make to understand the situation from other people’s perspective?

Q. How do you work with colleagues outside of your direct team to improve your delivery for clients?

  • What can be improved? 

Q. Tell me about a time you’ve created a positive, collaborative culture in your team.

  • How was the culture initially? Why was this?
  • What did you do?
  • What was the outcome? How do you know the culture was positive, collaborative one?

Q. Describe a time when you have worked in a really effective team.

  • What made the team so effective? 
  • What was your contribution to the effectiveness of the team? 
  • How did you seek to manage conflict or differences of opinion within the team? 
  • How did you ensure that you achieved a successful outcome that everyone was happy with?

Q. Give me an example of when you have had to build effective working relationships with people you don’t know.

  • Why did you have to do this? 
  • How did you go about this? 
  • What worked / didn’t work? 
  • What was your role in it? 
  • What did you learn as a result? 
  • How did you continue to build these relationships in the long term?

Q. Tell me about a time you’ve challenged siloed ways of thinking.

  • What did you do?
  • What was the outcome?

4. Resilience

Resilience questions are focused on identifying your own sources of energy and how you keep yourself fit for work and life.

Q. Describe a situation when you received feedback that was hard to hear. 

  • Why was the feedback hard to hear? 
  • What was your immediate feeling? 
  • What did you do in response? 
  • What did you learn from this?

Q. Describe a situation when you needed to dig deep to achieve a goal.

  • What did you do? 
  • What was the outcome?

Q. Describe a situation when you needed to deliver under unusually high pressure.

  • Where did that pressure come from? 
  • How did it affect your behaviour? 
  • What did you do to maintain your quality of work? 
  • What did you learn from the situation?

Q. Describe a time that you didn’t manage to achieve a target or objective.

  • What were you trying to achieve? 
  • What happened? 
  • How did you feel? 
  • What did you learn?

Q. What has been your biggest mistake in your career?

  • What did you learn?

5. Building Relationships

This section explores your ability to build strong relationships with clients, colleagues and suppliers.

Q. Describe a situation where you needed to understand the needs or point of view of others when making a decision.

  • What was the situation? 
  • What did you do to identify and understand their needs? 
  • What was the outcome?

Q. How do you flex your style to build relationships and influence outcomes?

  • Can you provide an example?

Q. Describe a time when you had to build a close, trusting relationship with someone with whom you had little in common.

  • Why was it important to build the relationship? 
  • How did you seek to build the relationship? 
  • What was the outcome?

Q. How would your team members and peers describe your typical behaviour in your interactions with them?

  • How do you know that is what they’d say? 
  • When did you last ask for feedback?

Q. Describe a time you needed to bring people with you to solve a problem.

  • What did you do? 
  • How do you know you were successful?

6. Beliefs, Values & Ethics

This section looks at how your beliefs, values and ethics influence your approach to work and life.

Q. Tell me about a time it has been difficult to act according to your values.

  • Why was it difficult? 
  • What did you do? 
  • What was the outcome? 
  • What did you learn?

Q. What are you passionate about at work?

  • What does this mean in terms of how you behave? 
  • What advantages does this behaviour bring? 
  • What risks does this bring?

Q. Describe a time that you have admitted you were wrong.

  • What was the situation? 
  • What did you do? 
  • How did you feel? 
  • What did you learn?

Q. Tell me about a time you’ve needed to be brave.

  • What was the situation? 
  • What ‘bravery’ was required? 
  • What did you do? 
  • What was the outcome?

Don’t fail to prepare

When it comes to excelling in competency-based job interviews, preparation is everything.

Thinking hard about the trickiest questions, and formulating clear, well-structured answers, will put you in the best possible position to be successful.

In fact, the more challenging you make your preparation, the easier your interview is more likely to be. 

Click here to subscribe

Back To Top
Share
Karen McNab
Associate Director – People, Product & Strategy
Contact Karen
Looking to move?
Browse through our live vacancies