How to answer competency questions?

Using the STAR (situation, task, action and result) method to structure your answers is a useful way to communicate important points clearly and concisely. For every answer you give identify the:

  • Situation/task - describe the task that needed to be completed or the situation you were confronted with. For example, ‘I led a group of colleagues in a team presentation to potential clients’.
  • Action - Explain what you did and how and why you did it. For example, ‘We presented to around 20 big industry players in the hope of winning their business. I delegated sections of the presentation to each team member and we discussed our ideas in a series of meetings. After extensive research and practise sessions our group presentation went off without a hitch’.
  • Result - Describe the outcome of your actions. For example, ‘As a result of this hard work and team effort we won the business of 15 clients’.

Where possible, try to relate your answers to the role that you’re interviewing for. While your responses to the interview questions are pre-prepared try to avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script.

Don’t attempt to wing it by thinking on your feet, as the quality of your answers will suffer. Also, avoid embellishing the truth at all costs - any lies or invented examples can be easily checked.