From competency based interview questions to behavioural ones, discover some of the most
popular job interview questions and answers.
You’ve perfected your CV, applied for the job and now you’ve been invited for an interview.
Whether it’s virtual or in-person, the prospect
of a job interview can be daunting and it’s completely
normal to feel nervous. Planning how you’ll answer some of the questions likely to come up will give
you a head start and build your confidence ahead of the interview.
While the exact format of the interview will vary according to the role and industry, you can expect
to be asked some behavioural questions as well as job-specific, skills-based ones. We’ve put together
some top interview tips on how to respond to the most common interview questions. Discover how
you can use your answers to let your personality and experience shine through, so that your future
employer knows you are the right person for the job.
Classic interview questions and answers:
Competency Based Questions
Competency based interview questions are used to assess how you have used specific skills in your
career so far. They help interviewers understand how you approach tasks and challenges, how well
you work with other people, if you can think on your feet, and how you cope with stressful
situations. How you answer these questions can highlight how well you match the desired qualities
mentioned in the job profile, what you have
learnt from your past professional experiences, and how well your personality fits with the traits the
company is looking for.
Key competencies which employers often look for include:
Expect questions starting with 'Give an example of…', 'Tell us about a time when you…', or 'Describe
How to answer competency based questions
Ahead of your interview, re-read the job description carefully. For example, if it says that they are
looking for someone with good verbal and written communication skills, the chances are that you
will be asked to speak about a time when you have used those skills to your advantage. Questions
might be about your failures too - it is okay to admit your failures, but it is also important to highlight
what you learnt from them and how you plan to handle similar situations in the future.
To prepare for competency based questions:
The STAR interview technique
The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach is a good way to structure your responses to
competency based interview questions. Provide the context of the situation or background to your
example, keeping it concise. Next, explain the task or activity, then outline describe the action you
took to resolve the situation. Finish off by summarising the result you achieved or what you learnt.
When asking competency based questions, the interviewer will want to understand what you learnt
from your experience, and how you might have done things differently, so preparing a few examples
in advance using the STAR model can be a good way to build your confidence ahead of the interview.
Common competency based interview questions and answersHere’s an example of how to use the
STAR technique to answer competency based interview
Question: “Describe a time in which you had to adhere to a tight deadline.”
How you answer this interview question can demonstrate your time-management skills.
Outline the Situation: A core member of the financial team had to go on leave due to a personal
emergency. There were reports that needed to be compiled within a couple of weeks.
Task: While I had never handled a task of this size before, I had been on the team for a while and felt
that it was time for me to step up and make sure the reports were finished on time.
Action: I made a checklist of all the components needed for the reports and cross-checked them
with the team member over a telephone call. I then broke down the various sections needed intosmaller, manageable
pieces and allocated them to the rest of the members of our team, including
myself. I continued putting the information together as my team finished it and asked my supervisor
for some time off from my non-pressing tasks to compile the reports.
Result: My hard work paid off and the necessary reports were filed on time, saving my company
Interviewers ask behavioural questions to gain an insight into a candidate’s personality and abilities.
While competency based questions are more about assessing the skills and experience you would
bring to the role, behavioural questions help interviewers to understand whether you fit the culture
of the organisation and the mould of the type of person they think can do the job. Behavioural
questions are often used to assess how you’ve handled past situations in the workplace, to reveal
the way you approach problems to achieve a successful outcome. Interviewers are usually looking
for descriptive answers to behavioural questions rather than a simple yes/no.
Using the STAR technique to answer these questions can help you give context to your responses.
Here are some example behavioural interview questions and answers:
Remember, an interview is also your golden opportunity to get to know your potential employers
better, work out if the company would be a good fit for you and ask any questions you may have.
For more career advice, check out our other candidate blogs here.
Once you’ve prepped your answers, why not check out some of our other career guides:
If you need help updating your CV or to find out about our latest roles, contact your local Adecco branch and connect with a recruiter today!
In today’s digital age many companies use advanced technology to streamline work processes. This
includes the use of applicant tracking software to automate parts of the hiring process, along with a
shift to virtual job interviews, which help employers and recruiters connect with a wider talent pool.
Virtual interviews are more common than ever – especially if you’re applying for a job in another
region or country, or if your boss-to-be is based remotely.
Whether you’ve learned all you can in your current role or you want to move industries, here are our top tips to
boost your career in 2021.