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There are a wide variety of Interview techniques that are typically employed by organizations during recruitment processes in order to identify the best person for their role. One of the most popular techniques you are likely to experience during your job search is a CBI (Competency Based Interview).

Competency Based Interviews are often a successful technique for both the company and you as they provide an opportunity for you to be assessed in an objective manner, based purely on what is necessary to be successful in the role. The interviewer will evaluate your answers against the competencies required for their role, while you can assess whether the job matches your key skills and attributes.

Expect to be asked a range of questions that concentrate on the most important parts of your past experience, focusing on the behaviors that you demonstrated within certain situations. Some examples of typical areas often assessed are: Personal, Motivation, Decision-making, Stakeholder Management, Organization and Management.

 

What types of question should you expect?

Examples of the type of question you may be asked are:

‘Tell me about a time when ......’

‘Describe an occasion when .....’

‘When has it been important to .......’

This style of question may be new to you and can seem quite formal as the interviewer will also be taking notes as well.

What CBI does mean is that you will be expected to give evidence based answers.

 

The importance of learning the STAR response technique

Another style of interview technique, very similar to standard CBIs, is STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) which again ensures the interviewer obtains all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires.  It is also a good structure to utilize when answering CBI questions. This format is said to give a good insight into future on-the-job performance of a particular candidate, for example:

SITUATION:

You will be asked to present a recent work challenge/objective

TASK:

What did you have to achieve?

Action:

What did you do to achieve the challenge?

Result:

What was the outcome of your actions and did you meet the objectives of the challenge?

Tips to help you navigate successfully through a CBI

Here are a few specific tips on making the most of Competency Based Interviews:


Know your resume:

As highlighted above, the CBI will require you to draw from personal experience, often work experience to demonstrate key attributes. You are likely to refer to particular roles you’ve hold, projects you’ve worked on and situations you’ve faced with previous employers, so it is important to be able to give thorough and accurate answers that accurately reflect what is on your résumé.

 

Prepare and prepare again:

Ensuring you have thoroughly researched the company, values, recent projects, the role and interviewer are all aspects you should be well versed in by the time you attend any interview. However, for a CBI you will also need to provide evidence based examples from your own experience. There can be nothing worse than having to think of a good scenario off the top of your head, so mentally prepare some solid examples for competencies that are likely to be relevant for this role. We have already highlighted some popular areas that are often assessed, however think about the role and company in question.

For example, the position you are applying for is a management role, requiring you to influence key stakeholders and deliver actionable data driven recommendations to increase ROI. Based on this, it is therefore likely that you will be asked questions around management, influencing others, commercial awareness and/or stakeholder management.

 

Think commercially:

This is an area people often fall down on in interviews in general. You may be attending an interview for a technical role, however more often than not employers are interested in well-rounded people, who demonstrate good communication skills and commercial awareness, in addition to a high level of technical competence. For example, if you are describing a time that you built a predictive model using SAS, also think about the ‘so what?’ linked to that. Once you have explained the actual process, also think about what impact it had on the business. What were the objectives and the more importantly the results?

 

It’s all about you:

Remember that the interviewer is interested in finding out about you and what you have achieved, not about your team, project or manager’s achievements. So don’t be too modest and remember to talk about the part you played in the team’s achievements, your contribution to the project’s deliverables and how you have supported your manager and the business through the achievement of your objectives.

 

Dig for Information to help you prepare:

Always brush up on your key technical skills before your interview, in case you are asked for technical examples or direct technical questions. However, also enquire about any case studies or written technical tests in addition to your CBI. These are increasingly common, so it is likely that they may come up. If you know you are going to have a CBI, it is also worth trying to get a feel for the competencies that are going to be assessed. Not all companies will divulge this information in advance, however it’s worth asking the question! Your recruitment consultant may also be able to help guide you on typical questions and processes for the interview if they know the company well

 

Be Honest:

You may also be asked for examples of when things didn’t go so well in your current or previous work.  Don’t lie – instead you should always justify honestly why something happened and what you learnt from it. Similarly, if you are asked a question you really don’t know the answer to, it is better to be open about this. Give an opinion on what process you would follow in order to try and answer the question and show your enthusiasm to learn

 

Ask relevant questions:

You are likely to be asked if you have any questions at the end. Show your enthusiasm for the role by asking questions that demonstrate your interest in the role and starting a career with the company. Avoid asking questions that may result in the employer questioning your commitment at this early stage. For example, how many holiday days do I get? What time can I leave in the evening? Do you have showers at the office in case I cycle to work?..... are not the best questions to give a good first impression

 

Salary:

It is advisable not to bring up a discussion around salary during the interview, however the employer may ask you the question directly. In this instance, you should always refer to the fact that the role and company is of more importance than the salary but you should also emphasize you wish to be paid fairly for your skills. You can highlight that you are currently earning X and expect Y (a 10-15% rise maximum is advisable.)

 


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