Reading time: 15 minutes


Are you a recruiter or hiring manager looking for candidate pre-employment assessment tests and tools including aptitude tests?

We invite you to visit our Assess Candidates website.

Looking to learn more about competency based interviews? This is the guide for you.

In this article, we explore competency based interviews, why companies use competency questions in their interviews, and how you can easily ace competency based interview assessments.

Take your interview skills to the next level and ace your next video interview by practising with our Video Interview Tool. Practice your responses and get valuable feedback to ensure you’re fully prepared for the real thing!

Not sure if you should practice to prepare for your competency-based interview? More than half of all candidates are rejected at the first interview stage (Fennell, 2022).

 A nationwide recruiter survey found that 51% of recruiters use interview scheduling software. A further 28% are considering the move.

Yello (2020)


  1. What are Competency Based Interviews?
  2. How are Competency Based Interviews Assessed?
  3. What Industries and Companies use Competency Based Interviews?
  4. Key Benefits of Competency Based Interviews for Both Employers and Candidates
  5. How to Prepare for a Competency Based Interview
  6. Most Common Competency Based Interview Questions
  7. How to Answer Competency Questions
  8. 7 Quickfire Tips to Ace Your Competency-Based Interview
  9. Competency-Based Assessment FAQs

Let’s dive in!

What are Competency Based Interviews?

Competency Based Interviews or CBIs are used to evaluate key skills or competencies a candidate is required for a particular position. This type of interview involves a set of 4 to 8 predetermined questions relating to specific skills needed for the job.

CBI Interviews are often used based on the idea that the best predictor of future performance is past and present performance. Due to this, CBI assessments are structured to ask questions about how you have applied particular skills when handling tasks and challenges in your past experiences.

Your answers to these competency questions are then compared to pre-set standards to assess your suitability for the position.

Did you know? Most organisations conduct some form of interview to recruit in 2022 (77%), the most common interview form being competency-based interviews at 51%

(CIPD, 2022)

CBI interviews are sometimes referred to as structured, behavioural or situational interviews. However, there are some key differences in how these are assessed. One key difference is how your competencies are assessed.

In our short video below, we explain what competencies are and how you can showcase your abilities and experiences during a competency-based interview:

What is a Competency? Get Ready for Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) & Interviews #shorts

How are Competency Based Interviews Assessed?

Competency-based interview questions are predefined and assess real-life examples of situations where you have used the skills relevant to the role you have applied for. The interviewer will take notes of your responses and review them after the interviews to assess which candidate showcased these skills the best.

Did you know? As the competencies assessed are required for the job, it is crucial to research the role you are applying for ahead of the interview to gain a good idea of what skills you will need to be successful.

Top 9 Competencies Assessed in Competency Based Interviews

Many employers and industries look for the same key skills for all roles. Below are the 9 most common competencies interviewers often focus on:

  1. Communication
    • Regardless of the role or industry, the way you communicate effectively with others is important, and you must be able to create and maintain a good relationship with your customers, clients and coworkers.
  1. Teamworking
    • Many Organisations function effectively with good teamwork. Employers want to ensure that you are a team player for collaborative efforts and projects which produce good results and increase productivity.
  1. Flexibility
    • Being able to handle change and adapt to a new working environment or new situations is key for many companies. Employers often want to understand how well you can adapt and fit into a new team and a dynamic work environment.
  1. Planning and Organising
    • A key skill needed for leadership or management roles is to be able to identify the company goals and objectives, and to set out actions, resources, and time needed to achieve these effectively and efficiently.
  1. Decision Making
    • Especially for managerial and executive positions, being able to make rational decisions that suit the values, policies, and objectives of the organisation in a variety of situations is a critical area of assessment during CBIs.
  1. Leadership
    • Interviewers may ask you to describe a situation where you demonstrated the ability to organise, inspire, and manage a productive team. Leadership skills are key for any team leader or management role.
  1. Commercial Awareness
    • This skill entails knowing how to turn a profit for a business and understanding what customers want. Employers typically want to hire a talent that understands their market and how they operate.
  1. Problem-Solving
    • The ability to analyse a situation accurately and find a constructive solution. When assessing candidates, CBI interview questions may seek your analytical skills such as problem-solving.
  1. People Management
    • A person with people management skills can identify and develop the best talents and sol is usually associated with HR positions. However, having people management skills can also help manage your clients and customers.

Identify the key competency interview questions that will be used to assess for a particular position using our Question Identifier Tool (QIT), included in our Go Essential package, and kickstart your interview practice today.

GF Question Identifier Tool

GF Question Identifier Tool

What Industries and Companies use Competency Based Interviews?

CBI interviews are one of the most commonly used interview types used by employers across various industries. Some of the key industries and roles make use  of CBIs include:

IndustryRoleCommon Competencies Assessed
FinanceFinancial Analyst
Bank Manager
Tax Adviser
Decision Making
Commercial Awareness
Emergency Care Assistant
Planning and Organising
People Management
GovernmentGovernment Administration
Civil Servants
Policy Adviser
Decision Making
ConsultingManagement Consultants
Data Analysts
Project Managers
Risk Analyst
People Management
Problem Solving
Commercial Awareness
Legal Executives
Planning and Organising
Decision Making

Companies That Use Competency Based Interviews

Competency Based Assessments are used by several companies, including:

Several companies are now opting for competency interviews because it is very beneficial by making it simple and easy to hire the right candidate for a position. 

But what are these benefits? Keep reading to find out!

Key Benefits of Competency Based Interviews for Both Employers and Candidates

Below are 5 of the key benefits each of competency interviews for employers and for candidates like you:

For Employers:

  1. A more accurate evaluation of candidate skills using past experiences.
  1. Gives the interviewing process consistency and order as the same questions are used across all candidates.
  1. Helps in promoting diversity and minimising hiring prejudice as the questions are predetermined.
  1. The answers given to these questions can uncover the key strength and development areas of each candidate.
  1. Improves many aspects of the candidate interview experience, resulting in a favourable employer brand.

For You:

  1. These interviews are a good opportunity for you to display your specific skills and experiences to your interviewer.
  1. Competency interviews can help provide you with a more clear understanding of the skills you’ll need for the job.
  1. By giving the interview structure, it helps in lowering stress and anxiety.
  1. Competency interview questions are easier to prepare for ahead of time.
  1. Provides insightful feedback on your key strength and development areas.

Because of these key reasons, employers around the world are utilizing competency-based interviews to evaluate the skills and suitability of job applicants for management or administrative roles.

Did you know? Many large graduate employers are also likely to include competency interviews or some capability questions in their assessment centres for hiring graduates.

Therefore it is essential for us to prepare for competency interviews and understand the key questions that we might be asked. So how do we prepare? Keep reading to find out!

How to Prepare for a Competency Based Interview

Below, we highlight 7 key tips that can help and guide you in your preparation for your upcoming CBI interview.

  1. Research the position and company you are applying for to determine if competency-based questions are likely to be asked during the interview. Consider the values of the company and the skills they often seek.
  1. Identify the competencies required for the role. A good place to start is by checking the job description to understand the key responsibilities and skills required for the job.
  1. Familiarise yourself with competency-based questions that are commonly used by the employer. You may find examples of these online or using an online interview practice platform.
  1. Practice structuring your answers to common competency-based questions to better prepare for the interview or assessment. A popular structure to use for your answers is the STAR method.
  1. Ensure to use scenarios from your experience that show these competencies in your answers. Use your own experiences from your past jobs or studies. Consider multiple examples for each question.
  1. After constructing good answers for each of the potential capability questions that could be asked during the interview, you should practice your answers until they come naturally to you and you feel confident with them.
  1. Practice your answers with your family or friends and get feedback about your answers from them. You could use a mirror to check your body language when answering questions.

Bonus Competency Interview Tip: When the time for your interview arrives, always remember to be confident with your answers, remain focused on the competencies required for the role, and use the knowledge gained from your research and practice to showcase your abilities and experiences effectively. 

Practice makes perfect. Prepare with our Video Interview Practice Tool and perfect your answers to competency-based interview questions by practising answers with over 60 practice interview sets and gain instant feedback on your responses.

CBI Interview Question Example

CBI Interview Questions Example

Keep reading as we highlight some common competency based interview questions that you can use in your preparation for your interview and an example structured answer using the STAR Competency Method.

Most Common Competency Based Interview Questions

Competency questions asked during interviews are designed to assess whether you have the necessary competencies required to succeed in the role. Many competency questions could be used across different roles and industries.

What are the most common competency based interview questions?

Here are some of the most common competency questions that you may be asked in an interview:

  • Describe a situation where you have had to work as part of a team.
  • Tell us about a time when your communication skills improved a situation.
  • What big decision did you make recently and how did you go about it?
  • Describe a time when you were required to lead a team project.
  • Tell us about a situation where you had to use effective time management and achieved success.
  • Give an example of a challenge you faced at work and how you overcame it.
  • Discuss a situation where you were asked to do something you had never previously attempted.
  • What was the biggest change that you have had to deal with? How did you cope with it?
  • Describe a big project you’ve planned and executed yourself.
  • How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?

Now that we’ve covered some of the most common competency questions, let’s cover how we can best answer these questions to impress.

How to Answer Competency Questions

There are different techniques you can use to properly answer competency questions effectively. The most common of these methods is the STAR method.

However, each of the different CBI techniques below has a different approach to offer. Without further ado, let’s get into these methods.

The STAR and CAR Method

STAR Method

What is the STAR method?

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The STAR method is a useful strategy to help structure your answers to communicate important points effectively and concisely. For every answer you give using the STAR competency method, it would be structured like this:

  • Situation: Describe the situation you were confronted with.
  • Task: Explain the task or project you had to execute in the situation.
  • Action: Explain what you did, how you did it, and your reasons for the steps you took.
  • Result: Conclude your answer by detailing the outcome of your action.

Did you know? There is an updated model of the STAR Method known as STAR+R. It adds an additional ‘R’ for Reflection. Here, you should look back on the experience to see what you have learnt and how you believe you can do better next time.

Check out our video below which explains how you can answer competency-based interview questions using the STAR Method:

How to Answer Competency-Based Interview Questions (STAR Technique) #shorts

CAR Method

What is the CAR method?

CAR stands for Context/Challenge, Action, and Result. The CAR method is essentially similar to the STAR method, with the only difference being that it combines the situation and task into one which is the ‘context or challenge’.

  • Context/Challenge: Describe the situation and the task you faced.
  • Action: Explain the steps you took to approach and solve the challenges.
  • Result: Highlight the results you achieved and what you learned from the experience.

Competency Interview Question and Answer

Continue reading below for an example of what an answer to a competency question would look like using the STAR+R competency method.


Tell us about a situation where you had to use effective time management and achieved success.

  • Situation: While working on a digital marketing project for a major client with a team of four other colleagues from the marketing and sales departments, two of them resigned from the organisation.
  • Task: With the sudden departure of two team members, the remaining team members, including myself, had to step up and take on additional responsibilities to complete the project on time.
  • Action: After a meeting with the manager and the remaining team members, we agreed to take on the responsibilities that had been assigned to the other team members who left the organisation. To assist with the manager, I reviewed the work schedules and assigned new responsibilities based on availability, and worked on the project for an extra hour, after work hours, every day.
  • Result: We were able to map out an effective digital marketing strategy for the client based on our market research which was presented to the client alongside our presentation.
  • Reflection: This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and effective time management. It also reinforced the value of regular communication and teamwork in achieving successful project outcomes.

Competency Interview Tip: When giving your answer to a competency question, always try to recall a positive scenario from your experience that effectively demonstrates the key competencies.

Our video below also gives an example answer to a Competency-based Question using the STAR Method.

Competency-based Interview Question and Answer (STAR Method) #shorts

Other CBI Answer Models You Can Use


What is the PARADE method?

PARADE stands for Problem, Anticipated consequence, Role, Action, Decision-making rationale, and End result. This is especially helpful for case study questions that may demand a more in-depth assessment of the way you think.

  • Problem: The challenge you experienced.
  • Anticipated Consequence: The implications of the problem, if it was left unchecked.
  • Role: Explain the role you played in resolving the problem.
  • Action: The steps you initiated to solve the problem. Be specific.
  • Decision-making Rationale: Explain why you decided to take the actions that you did.
  • End Result: Finish with your findings and the outcome of your actions.
PAR Method

What is the PAR method?

PAR stands for Problem, Action, and Result. This is another variation of the STAR method. It is a more condensed variant of STAR that emphasizes getting to the point more quickly rather than providing context. This is useful when the interviewer already has an idea or context of the situation.

  • Problem: The issue you encountered and had to deal with.
  • Action: How you approached the problem and the steps you took to solve it.
  • Result: The result of your actions.
GICF Method

What is the GICF method?

GICF is an acronym for Goal, Impact, Challenges, and Findings. This method is especially useful in interviews that are for data science positions. Using this method makes it easy to structure your answers for questions that require you to talk about a previous data science or research-based project.

  • Goal: Summarize the goal of the project you participated in.
  • Impact: Highlight the project’s potential by mentioning the benefits of the project’s outcome and its final results.
  • Challenges: Discuss the problems the project encountered, how it was solved, and the role you played in solving them. It is advisable to always aim to mention two or three technical and non-technical problems the project faced.
  • Findings: Share an interesting observation that came up during the execution of the project.

Using any of these models to structure your answers to questions during a CBI interview ensures that you are telling the interviewer what they want to hear and you are highlighting your competencies in the best fashion possible.

Continue reading as we cover our top tips below to help you ace your upcoming competency interview.

7 Quickfire Tips to Ace Your Competency-Based Interview

Now that we’ve prepared and are aware of what questions we can expect, it’s time to ace the interview. To ensure your success during a competency-based assessment, here are some more quickfire tips to keep in mind.

  1. Practice Beforehand: Always practice your answers before your interview. Rehearse your answers in front of a mirror or with friends to get feedback on your delivery.
  1. Keep it Simple: Try to keep your answers as simple and straightforward as possible. Using the STAR or any other technique will help you keep your answers simple.
  1. Use Your Experiences: Ensure to use one or some scenarios and situations from your experience that demonstrate your key competencies.
  1. Be Honest: Avoid making up an example in your answers as it could come across as unbelievable and dishonest. Ensure to only use experiences you have had so far.
  1. Relate to the Job: When answering questions, always try to consider how your answers relate to the role you are interviewing for. Do they demonstrate the key skills required in the role? How can you use these skills for the job?
  1. Be Positive: Always aim to demonstrate how your skills were shown and developed from these experiences. Consider turning a negative into a positive by showing how you are improving after a situation.
  1. Maintain Good Body Language: Ensure to keep relaxed eye contact and demonstrate active listening by nodding along and using subtle hand gestures. Consider how your tone and posture demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role

Don’t miss our video below for even more good body language tips you can use during your competency-based interview:

Top 5 Job Interview Body Language Tips #shorts

Practice example questions likely to come up during your competency interview Video Interview Practice Tool and use feedback & guidance on your body language to improve your confidence in your competency interview answers.

And with that, we’ve covered all you’ll need to know for your next competency interview. 

But wait!

Before you ace your next CBI interview, check out our FAQ section below to find even more answers to frequently asked questions concerning CBI interviews.

Competency-Based Assessment FAQs

What is CBI?

CBI is an acronym for competency based interview. It is an interview organized with a set of predetermined questions to evaluate one or more skills or competencies a candidate is required to possess for a particular job role.

What should I expect in a Competency-Based Interview?

Interviewers assess your competencies in critical areas relevant to the position you’re applying for. You may be asked up to 8-10 questions around examples of scenarios from your past experiences that showcase your skills.

How Do You Pass a Competency-Based Interview?

Here are five key tips for passing competency-based interviews:

  1. Research the position and company.
  2. Identify the competencies required.
  3. Use the STAR answer method.
  4. Be specific and concise.
  5. Maintain good body language throughout.

Are Competency-Based Questions Difficult?

Competency-based questions can be challenging as they require you to provide specific examples of past experiences where you show the required skills in a formal setting. However, with preparation and practice, you can familiarise yourself with how to answer these questions confidently and effectively.

How Long Should a Competency Answer be?

A competency answer should ideally be between 1-2 minutes long, with a focus on delivering a clear and concise response that showcases your skills and experiences. Structure your answer using the STAR method to ensure that you provide a comprehensive and relevant response.

Practice and Register with GF to ace your competency based interviews first time

Do you want to pass your CBI interviews, first time? Sign up for tools offered by GF, the only assessment practice test experts that provide tests to over 100 UK universities and their students, and also across Asia and continental Europe.

Go to GF now and select from the range of products we offer at no risk. We offer a comprehensive premium package with a full set of assessment tools for candidates (numerical, logical, verbal reasoning, situational judgement tests, assessment centre tests and more). Buy with peace of mind without commitment to a full 100% money back guarantee if you do not pass your assessment tests.