Competency based interviews – How to prepare

When you start interviewing for future jobs you will definitely come across interviews that are competency based. A competency-based interview is designed to ask you questions about your character, soft skills and personal behaviour. These are called “behavioural competencies”. Behavioural interview questions usually take the form of:

  • Tell me about a time when you....
  • Give an example of a situation where...
  • Describe a scenario.....

In a competency-based interview the interviewer will be looking for evidence of how you have acted in real situations in the past. This is based on the premise that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

ph_ind_buslife_015_cropped (Custom) (2)A frequently assessed competency in the roles that are available at Oracle is Customer Focus. Candidates who display this competency understand and believe in the importance of customer focus. They listen to and understand the needs of external and internal customers. They meet and exceed customer needs to ensure satisfaction. An example of a question related to this competency is:   “Can you give us an example of when you have dealt with an upset or angry customer in the past? “

Another important competency is Drive for results. This competency is trying to assess personal motivation and how you approach challenges. Possible questions that are connected to this competency are: “What achievement are you most proud of? Give me an example of a time when you have had to achieve a specific result? What opportunities have you identified and used to achieve success? Tell me about a time when you have ‘made things happen’ for yourself/your team?”

STAR technique

The best way to prepare for a competency based interview is to read through the job description and look for essential competencies that are required. Make an overview of all relevant examples of real situations or tasks that can provide prove. If the job is a good match you will find that you have enough examples in your resume to help you answer competency based interview questions.

The key to giving the interviewer a good insight in your competencies lies in the structure of the answer you give. You can use the STAR technique for this. The STAR technique describes a logical process to create and deliver your answer as follows:

S=           Situation

Present a recent challenge and situation in which you found yourself.  This situation can be from a previous job, from a personal experience or from any relevant event. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand what was involved.

T=            Task

Describe which task that you were asked to complete.

A =          Action

Describe the action you took, the process you followed and the steps you completed. Even if you are discussing a group project or task, describe what you did rather than the achievements of the team.

R =          Result

Show that your actions resulted in a successful outcome. Talk about what you accomplished, what you delivered in terms of benefit and what you learned. This is the most important part of the answer .

Keep in mind that the interviewer for each part will review if you have explained:

  • The situation you were in and the action you took?
  • How you responded to the situation?
  • What the outcome was that resulted from your actions?

If you have not given enough detail, the interviewers will usually follow-up with extra questions, such as:

  • What actions did you take, and why?
  •  What was your specific role in this?
  • What challenges did you come across?
  • Why did you make that decision?
  • How did you approach that?
  • How did you feel?
  • Whose idea was that?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What feedback did you receive?
  • What would you do differently next time?

Preparing these answers upfront will help you under the stress of the interview to perform and will avoid ‘blank moments’ during the interview. If you want to share your experiences with competency based interviews or have specific questions, please feel free to comment on this article.

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« July 2016