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Skills-Based Interviews More Efficient than Behavioural


Skills- or competency-based interviews have been found to be a better indicator of an employee’s performance than behavioural event interviews. As noted by Google’s current head of human resources, Laszlo Bock, brain teasers and case studies have proven to be inadequate means of finding out if an interviewee is a potential fit for the company. Competency- or skill-based questions, on the other hand, are an excellent indicator of future success. How can you hone your skills so you can convince the company of your dreams that you are exactly what they are looking for?

What is a Skills – or Competency-Based Interview?

This type of interview will ask you to recall specific instances in which you displayed the core competencies required by the job you are applying for. For instance, an interviewer may ask, “Tell me about a time that you did not meet a deadline for an important project.” Thus, you might explain that you were unable to provide the results of a study or research because you discovered a new area that needed a bit of further exploration before you could supply accurate results. You might explain the steps you took to either obtain an extension or to work overtime to cause as small a delay as possible. As is evident, recruiters at a competency-based interview won’t expect you to say you never failed; rather, they are interested in how you tackle setbacks and get over potentially stressful situations.

Research is Key

To ace a skills-based interview, you need to prepare yourself as well as possible by researching into competencies you will be asked about. For instance, if you are applying for a leadership job, competencies recruiters may delve into include conflict resolution in teams, goal achievement, time management, etc. It is also important to think of the biggest challenges you have faced – your list may include a tough sales goal, leading a team you did not build, or delivering a big project in record time. By identifying these obstacles and how you tackled them, you can be creative and talk about them even if the question you are asked does not exactly fit the core competency they are asking about. You can also steer your recruiters into a direction you are comfortable with by mentioning core competencies in your CV. These competencies should not be randomly listed. Rather, they should match those listed in the description of the job you are after.

Using the STAR Model

When asked about a specific instance in which you displayed a given skill, rely on the STAR model to ensure your answer is thorough. STAR stands for Situation (Describe the situation that occurred), Task (What were you called upon to do?), Action (What action did you take to fix the problem at hand?), and Result (What were the results of your actions?). After studying the job description with a fine-toothed comb and identifying key competencies, have someone ask you questions that test these skills. Think fluidly so that you can relate any questions you may not have prepared for to similar skills you displayed in the past.

Mental clarity is key when you are called upon to think creatively so make sure you are relatively relaxed before your interview. Practise breathing exercises or meditate in your car before heading to the interview. If you prepare well beforehand and think of key skills you would like to mention, you can think ‘on the spot’ and avoid panicking in the face of an unexpected question.