Competency-Based Interview Questions - Atomic Hire Blog
Interview Questions Resources

Competency-Based Interview Questions7 min read

May 13, 2019 5 min read


Competency-Based Interview Questions7 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

More and more, organisations are changing the focus from job applicants’ qualifications and past experience to finding the right people to fit the role regardless of conventional achievements. For this purpose, competency-based interviews are becoming widely used, as they provide a reliable way to assess candidates based on objective criteria.

What is a Competency-Based Interview?

As the name implies, competency-based interviews are designed to assess candidates on key competencies. Instead of focusing on applicants’ work experience or qualifications, a competency-based interview aims to determine whether candidates have the right skills required to perform the job for which they applied.

What are the Benefits of Competency-Based Interviews?

Competency-based interviews provide recruiters and hiring managers a way to observe and measure competencies that are essential to performing a job. Research has shown that this approach to interviewing is the most effective method to select candidates, outperforming less structured interviewing in terms of predictive power. Furthermore, competency-based interview questions are standardised, ensuring that all candidates receive identical questions what improves reliability.

When to use Competency-Based Interview?

Competency-based interviews can be relevant in different scenarios, but they are often preferred when previous industry experience is not seen as essential for a role. This interview method is also recommended when recruiters need to test candidates practically on how they would react in given situations, which helps to predict how they would behave in a certain scenario.

Competency-Based Interview Questions


Leadership is a complex concept but it often relates to an individual’s ability to set and achieve challenging goals, take fast and decisive action when needed, while inspiring others to thrive.

  • How do you monitor the performance of the people that you have to lead?
  • Are you able to delegate responsibilities efficiently?
  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • What can you do to motivate a team?
  • What values are most important to you as a leader?
  • Which person in a leadership role inspires you? Why?
  • Describe a situation where you needed to inspire a team. What challenges did you meet?


Decisiveness can be explained as the way an individual exercises good judgment by making sound and well-informed decisions while perceiving the impact and implications of such decisions.

  • Tell me about a big decision that you made recently.
  • Describe a situation when you had to make a decision without knowledge of the full facts.
  • When was the last time that you have refused to make a decision?
  • Have you ever had to make a decision without the input of key players?
  • Tell me about a situation where you made a decision too quickly and got it wrong.


Delegation is a critical management skill. It involves working with an employee to establish goals, granting them autonomy and responsibility to achieve the objectives while offering them the freedom to decide how the goals will be achieved and remaining available to support them achieve the goals.

  • What type of responsibilities do you delegate?
  • Give an example of a project that you felt compelled to complete on your own.
  • Describe a situation where you reluctantly delegated a task to a colleague.
  • Have you ever delegated a task to the wrong person? What happened and what did you learn from it?
  • How do you prepare for being away from the office for long periods of time, such as holidays?


Resilience can be explained as to how effectively a person deals with pressure. Being resilient means keeping focused while remaining optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. A resilient employee recovers quickly from setbacks and knows how to effectively balance their personal life and work.

  • Tell me about a project where you achieved success despite the odds being stacked against you.
  • Give me an example of a situation where you worked under pressure.
  • Which recent project or situation has caused you the most stress and how did you deal with it?
  • What has been your greatest failure at work?
  • What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?


Simply put, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

  • Tell about a problem that one of your staff or colleagues brought to you recently. How did you handle it?
  • What unpopular decision have you made recently? How did your colleagues react?
  • When was the last time that you had an argument with a colleague?
  • When did you last upset someone at work?
  • Give an example where you found it hard to adjust to one particular colleague.


An individual with good team-building skills knows how to inspire, motivate, and guide others towards goal accomplishments. They consistently develop cooperative relationships, encouraging and facilitating cooperation within the organization while fostering commitment, team spirit, and trust.

  • Tell me about a situation where you played an important role in a project as a member of the team.
  • How do you build relationships with other members of your team?
  • Give me an example where you worked in a dysfunctional team. Why was it dysfunctional and how did overcome it?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team.
  • How do you bring difficult colleagues on board?


Risk-taking is the act of doing something that involves risk in order to achieve a goal and it can be a desirable skill when it is done in a calculated and balanced manner.

  • Tell me about the risks that you have taken in your professional or personal life.
  • What is the biggest risk that you have taken?
  • Describe one of your current or recently completed projects, setting out the risks involved.
  • What risks do you see in taking this job?
  • Do you consider yourself to be more risk-averse or risk-taking?


A person with integrity instils mutual trust and confidence, creating a culture that fosters high standards of ethics. By behaving in a fair and ethical manner toward others a person with integrity demonstrates a sense of corporate responsibility that can be highly beneficial to an organisation.

  • Have you ever had to lie to achieve your aims? Why did you do so?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism.
  • Tell me about a time when someone asked you to do something that you objected to. How did you handle the situation?
  • Have you experienced any negative consequences for following something you considered right?
  • What would you do if your boss asked you to do something illegal?


A person of influence knows how to persuade others, building consensus through give and take. They obtain cooperation from others to get information and accomplish goals, facilitating “win-win” outcomes.

  • Describe a situation where you were able to influence others on an important issue.
  • What approach would you use to influence different stakeholders who have different agendas?
  • What would you do if your manager disagreed with you on the best action to take?
  • If you were managing a team, how would you persuade them to accept an unpopular decision?
  • Describe a time when you failed to sell an idea that you knew was the right one.


Independence is the ability to work independently without direct supervision. Being able to plan and organise their own work day and tasks, initiate change to work practices or policies or their own personal working style are signs of an individual with good independence skills.

  • Which decisions are you capable of making on your own and which do you require senior support to make?
  • When do you feel that it is justified for you to go against accepted principles or policy?
  • Have you made a decision that wasn’t yours to make?
  • Describe a project or situation where you took a project to completion despite important opposition.
  • When have you gone beyond the limits of your authority in making a decision?
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *