Competency Based Interview Techniques


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Advice on how to succeed in competency based interviews.

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Competency Based Interview Techniques

  1. 1. Competency based interviews
  2. 2. known as situational or behavioural interviews,this style of interview is commonly used by UK businesses,never more so than in the pharma sector when recruitingpharmaceutical physicians. Delivering structured and speci creplies to competency based questions is crucial for success.If a company needs a consistent base of capability Hiring the wrong person today is costly in terms offor achieving improved performance and readiness recruiting and hiring costs and in lost productivity.for leadership roles, they also need to select for Competencies predict performance better thanthose same capabilities. experience, technical skills, aptitude or personality.While skills and knowledge can be taught, there are Traditional (non-behavioral) interviews do notvarying opinions in the field about whether certain predict performance. Lucia and Lepsinger (1999)attributes can be developed or whether employees state, “By clarifying what specific behaviors andmust be selected who already demonstrate the use practices make for employee effectiveness,of those attributes. For example, many organisations competency models increase the likelihood ….today define “flexibility” as a core requirement. of placing the right people into the right jobs.”Can you teach people who are rigid in their behavior Organisational talent management today requiresto become “flexible?” Some would argue you can the alignment of multiple human resource functionsbecause people aren’t born flexible. It’s a learned including selection, development, performancecharacteristic of behavior. However, the more management and succession management. Thepertinent question is, should the business have to most effective way to align these functions for theteach it or should they select candidates who already benefit of the organisation and employees at alldemonstrate “flexibility” in the way needed by the levels is through use of competency models.organisation?As organizations evolve and create new strategicplans to meet ever-changing business challenges,they are also defining their ideal talent profile. Talentprofiles are future-focused, answering questions suchas, “What will we need people to be able to do to Competency based interviewsachieve our business goals in the next 3-5 years orlonger?” “What kind of leadership will we need to are based on the premise thatachieve the growth and profitability we are targeting?”Talent profiles are based on competencies, so past behaviour is a likelyinterviews and the selection process must be aligned. predictor of future behaviour.Organisations are moving or changing so fast,particularly in the pharma sector, that there is lesstime than ever to hire “green” talent and develop thoseemployees to meet company expectations and fitthe company culture over several years.
  3. 3. Competency based interviews are based onthe premise that past behaviour is a likely Applicants who ignore orpredictor of future behaviour. The interviewerwill seek examples of past behaviour thatprovide him/her with concrete evidence that gloss over competenciesyou have the necessary competencies tosucceed in the job. do so at their own peril. BeThe word ‘competency’ is widely used inbusiness to refer to the behaviours necessaryto achieve organisational goals. A competency positive and see this as anis something quantifiable and measurable.Interview questions are carefully designed to opportunity to communicateprobe specific skills, competencies andcharacteristics which are relevant to jobsuccess for the position in question. Typically, competencies that may notquestions will be structured in the format, ● Describe a situation when you ... be apparent from your CV. ● Give an example of a time when you ...After providing examples, the interviewer maydelve deeper, prompting you for more detail.Although each interview may vary in terms ofquestions asked and competencies reviewed,certain themes are frequently explored,Individual competencies - your personalattributes: flexibility, decisiveness, tenacity,independence, risk taking, personal integrity Sample competency questionsManagerial competencies - managingother people: leadership, empowerment, Problem solving and judgmentstrategic planning, corporate sensitivity,project management, financial awareness How do you identify problems and find solutions. Do you consider external andAnalytical competencies - decision making: internal factors before making decisions. Doinnovation, analytical skills, problem solving, you understand when a problem can be solvedknowing when to act, practical learning, without further involvement and when othersinformation assimilation, attention to detail need to help find a solution?Interpersonal competencies - dealingwith other people: communication, impact, 1. Tell me about a time when you had topersuasiveness, diplomacy, intuition, self- identify the underlying causes to aawareness, negotiation, teamwork, openness problem. 2. Describe a time when you had toMotivational competencies - things that analyse a problem and generate aenergise you: resilience, challenge, motivation, solution.achievement, initiative, focus on quality, drive 3. Tell me about a situation where youfor results had to solve a problem or make a decision that required careful thought. What did you do?
  4. 4., self-motivation and Personal and career objectivesself-knowledge Employers will invest heavily in your trainingDo you always strive to achieve a standard of and development and want to ensure thatexcellence, use initiative at the appropriate your objectives don’t conflict with theirs.time and show persistence in pursuing goals?Accurate self-assessment skills will allow you 1. What are your short and long-termto be objective and critical in evaluating your goals?strengths and weaknesses. 2. When and why did you establish these goals and how are you 1. Tell me about a time when you acted preparing yourself to achieve them? over and above the expectations of 3. What are the most important things your role. you are seeking in a career? 2. How would you describe yourself? 3. How do you think a close friend who knows you well would describe you?Ability, competence and achievement AdaptabilityDesigned to discover what inspires you and How quickly and how positively will you adaptmotivates you to achieve and whether you to changes in work practices, work roles andare a loner or a team person. work environments and the general flux of the modern workplace? How do you manage or 1. What two or three accomplishments avoid stress? have given you the most satisfaction? Why? 1. Tell me about a time when you changed 2. Describe a time when you led or your priorities to meet others’ motivated others. expectations. 3. What do you feel qualifies you for this 2. Describe a time when you altered your position? own behaviour to fit the situation. 4. Tell me about a time when you dealt 3. Tell me about a time when you had to with a problem in your organisation. change your point of view or your plans What did you do? What would you to take into account new information or now do differently? changing priorities.Conflict management and ethics Administrative skillsHow do you behave in a crisis? What does it These are generally checking that you worktake to shake your poise or self-confidence? effectively, understand generic workplaceWhat approach do you take to problem routines and haveexperience of common officesolving? software and administration systems. 1. Tell me about a significant crisis you 1. Tell me how you organise your work and have faced. schedule your time. 2. Tell me about a difficult customer or a 2. Tell me about computer software customer complaint that you have applications you are familiar with and dealt with. your experience in using them. 3. How did you resolve conflict in the 3. Tell me about your experience of team you were part of? How could you managing a budget. What went well? have resolved it differently? What didn’t go well and why?
  5. 5. solving and decision making Client focusWhat’s your problem-solving style? Do you 1. Give an example of how you providedmanage your activities to minimise or avoid service to a client/stakeholder beyondthem? How do you behave in a crisis? their expectations. How did you identify the need? How did you respond 1. Tell me about a difficult decision that 2. Tell me about a time when you had to you have made. deal with a client/stakeholder issue. 2. What significant problems have you faced in the last year? 3. Describe a situation in which you acted 3. How do you work under pressure? as an advocate within your organisation 4. Tell me about a time when you had to for stakeholders’ needs and where make a quick decision. What were the organisational resistance needed to be circumstances and what did you do? overcome.Communication TeamworkAre you an active listener, do you really listen Employers need people who are sociallyand do you hear what is actually said. Are competent. The desire to build and maintainyou able to read the non-verbal messages relationships in and beyond the workplace isthat others communicate? Do you communicate critical. Many workplaces function on thein an engaging and convincing manner? basis of project teams. 1. Describe a situation you were 1. Tell me about a time when you worked involved in that required a multi- successfully as a member of a team. dimensional communication strategy. 2. Describe a situation where you were 2. Give an example of a difficult or successful in getting people to work sensitive situation that required together effectively. diplomatic communication? 3. Describe a situation in which you were 3. Tell me about a time when you really a member (not a leader) of a team and had to pay attention to what someone conflict arose within the team. What did else was saying, actively seeking to you do? What would you do differently? understand their message.Organisational awareness Results orientation 1. Describe the culture of your 1. Tell me about a time when you set and organisation and give an example of achieved a goal. how you work within this culture to 2. Tell me about a time when you improved achieve a goal. the way things were typically done on the 2. Describe the things you consider and job. the steps you take in assessing the 3. Describe something you have done to viability of a new idea or initiative. improve the performance of your work unit. 3. Tell me about a time when you used your knowledge of the organisation to get what you needed.
  6. 6. Influencing, persuading and negotiating Leadership and people management You may have strong verbal skills but can Do you lead by example? Do you create an you influence another person to change their environment that empowers success in thinking or take some action – perhaps a others? Can you build relationships inside colleague follows your advice or a client and outside of the organisation? Are you decides to buy a service or product. At capable of creating a realistic vision, setting management level have you the skills to challenging but achievable goals and negotiate and involve rather than confront and establishing a learning environment? coerce? Do you act ethically? 1. Tell me about a time when you were 1. Describe a situation that best shows able to change another’s viewpoint your ability to get things done through significantly. other people. 2. Tell me about a time when you were 2. Tell me about the last time you were asked to do something that you unsuccessful in getting someone to disagreed with. follow your lead. What did you do? 3. Tell me about a person or event that 3. Have you ever needed to motivate a has been influential in your personal team? What action did you take? development. Preparing for competency based questions It’s essential to prepare thoroughly. Formulate responses to these typical competency questions by writing down specific Applicants who ignore or gloss over competencies and different examples of past behaviour that do so at their own peril. Be positive and see this as describe the SITUATION that you faced, the an opportunity to communicate competencies that ACTION that you took and the OUTCOME that may not be apparent from your CV. resulted from your action. ● Obtain the job description and see which S ituation competencies are key for the job. A ction ● Ask your recruitment consultant about the O utcome competencies the client is looking for. ● Look at the company’s web site. Have they posted organisational core competencies or This format will help formulate your response values that represent behaviors they expect. in a way that you can deliver at interview with ● Seek a contact in the industry and ask to the information the interviewer is seeking about share competencies necessary for his/her your past behaviour, your learning and how you position or describe their work and deduce you might act in the future. competencies necessary to achieve outcomes. ● Speak with someone who understands trends in Remember that the focus should be on you their field and have them help you project the even if the situation involved a group, competencies. interviewers will want to know what was your specific role in achieving the desired result. ● Write out your accomplishments. Include your failures with what you learned in the process Include as many details as you can remember to help bring the stories to life.
  7. 7. Competencies - Organisational benefitsCompetency based HR systems help ensurethat the people who are recruited have thepotential to succeed. It’s been estimated thatthe wrong hire costs 1.5 times that person’sannual salary. And that doesn’t measure thefrustration of an individual trying to succeedin the wrong job.Competency based systems can also be usedto provide appropriate development to helpemployees realise their potential and to provideappraisal, feedback and coaching to improveproductivity. In addition, competencies provideemployees with an objective, defined target fordevelopment and realistic career goals.Competencies become operational only ifdefined by behaviors, so interviewers, candidates,managers and employees can apply the model inthe work setting. A behavioral description is astatement of the observable actions that indicatethe presence of an underlying competency.Competencies - Individual benefitsCompetencies can be the basis of individual A validated competency model is anselection and career development. Showing objective way to integrate and ensureappropriate competencies can help candidates fairness of talent management initiativesto get a job and position employees for future within the organisation.opportunities.Demonstrating a desire to improve related In short, knowing and demonstratingcompetencies generates development on the job competencies provide substantial benefitsand makes performance management meaningful. to individuals who want to be seen as qualified and valued accordingly.Competencies are increasingly being used toselect and develop leaders and for successionmanagement. Competency based internal selectionmakes career mobility across functions easier andhelps individuals overcome any discriminatorypractices in the organisation. It means careeropportunities are based less on educationalachievement or on previous positions and more onthe knowledge, skills and attributes that have beendemonstrated and are needed in new roles.