What are Competency Based Interviews (CBI)

  • Competency Based Interviews a.k.a. CBIs have a pre-defined set of questions which relate to particular competencies deemed relevant for the job you have applied for
  • You will typically be asked between 4-8 questions, all asking for an example of a time in the past when you demonstrated a particular behaviour. Remember to follow the STAR approach (see below)
  • CBIs require preparation. Primarily you will want to know which competencies are being assessed for the role you are applying for. Once identified, you can start creating answers to the questions.
  • You may identify which competencies are likely to be assessed and the types of questions likely to come up during your interview along with answers to teach you what a good response looks like with our proprietary Question Identifier Tool (QIT). The QIT is included in our Go Premium preparation package.

How to best answer Competency Based Interview questions (CBI)

The premise behind this interview is that the best predictor of future behaviour is past and present behaviour. Therefore, this type of interview will seek to gather evidence of the behaviours you have demonstrated in various situations in the past. The process will focus on particular competencies that are deemed to be relevant to the role. Each competency is underpinned by particular behaviours, and it is the past demonstration of these behaviours that will act as evidence for that competency. Indeed, each competency also has undesirable behaviours that can negatively impact any positive aspects of a particular competency that you may demonstrate.

For example: a job may require the “Planning and Organising” competency. The interviewer will often ask you to ‘tell them about a time when you have had to plan and organise a project or task’. They will probe further until you have fulfilled the following aspects to support your demonstration of this competency.

Situation – also known as the context of the situation

Task – which you were undertaking

Action– which you took

Result – of the action that you chose to take.

This can be remembered using the acronym ‘STAR’. Another acronym ‘CAR’ may be applied where the letter ‘C’, ‘Context’, covers both the ‘Situation’ and ‘Task’ elements of the ‘STAR’ model.

An example here may refer to a project which you undertook, highlighting behaviours such as planning with contingency, being aware of and sharing risk with all stakeholders, providing updates to all stakeholders on a regular basis, managing expectations of all stakeholders and so on. However, if you did not perform any of these behaviours, or demonstrate an awareness of the importance of these, then this would suggest your competence in ‘Planning and Organising’ is not sufficient – this would be likely to work against you.

Want to know what questions are likely to appear in your interview? Complete our short Question-Identifier Tool and we will provide you with the questions that are most likely to come up, along with sample answers.

Our recommendation for best performance during the CBI interview is to identify your questions through the QIT tool and then practice the answers using our video interview platform.

QIT and Video Interview platform access are included in our Go Premium package.

It is important that you consider the role you that are applying for carefully, and review any job descriptions that may exist. Using this methodology, you will be able to identify those competencies that are likely to be assessed by the recruitment process and we will provide you with the types of questions that are likely to come up. This will help you prepare and plan for your Competency Based Interview with greater confidence.