5 Easy to Action Steps to Ace a Competency-Based Interview

As a candidate, knowing how to perform well in a competency-based interview can give weight to your application, and help you stand out from the crowd.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) competencies are the unique behaviours that employees must demonstrate in a situation to; “accomplish the best possible outcomes”.

A competency-based interview is a recruitment strategy that involves examining the previous behaviours of candidates, to determine how they will perform in a future role. With competency questions, hiring managers can go beyond the experiences and qualifications outlined in your CV.


1. List Required Competencies



Chartered institutes, trade bodies, and membership organisations have numerous competencies that they search for when choosing a new employee. Though it’s helpful to practice answers that demonstrate multiple competencies at once, your focus must be on the abilities and requirements outlined in the job description.

For instance, the competencies required for a membership retention manager may include:

  • Leadership and people management
  • Experience with subscription organisations
  • Experience working to quotas
  • Strong teamwork
  • Resiliency and flexibility
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Multi-tasking proficiency

List any keywords in the role description that indicate essential competencies and compare them to other information, like details on the institute’s website, or the organisation’s literature.

Remember, you can also speak to your specialist membership recruitment company for extra help if you’re unsure which competencies are critical for your prospective employer to press the green light.


2. Identify Possible Competency Questions

With your list of competencies to hand, you can begin to prepare question examples that might come up in the interview.

Practice questions will help you to prepare answers in advance so that you can respond quickly and confidently.

As an example, in an interview for a chartered institute retention manager, one question might be:

“Tell us about a time you improved retention rates for your previous employer.”

The response to this question can then cover various points about service delivery, including how you drove a positive team morale, developed and kept track of customer experience through CRM systems and phone calls, and measured motivation in members.



When listing stories that answer potential competency-based interview questions, remember to:

  • Keep a positive tone
  • Never criticise others
  • Emphasise your performance, contributions and corresponding results


3. Use the STAR Approach to Maintain Focus

In a competency-based interview, it’s easy to get caught up in the story you’re telling and veer off track. Remember, it’s key to answer questions as concisely as possible. The STAR model is one of the easiest ways to structure your answers to achieve the results you want; a role offer.

For instance, let’s say you are applying for a membership engagement manager role and a hiring manager said: “Tell us about a time you showed leadership skills in your previous role.” You would:

1. S: Outline the “Situation”: Explain the environment you worked in, and what the circumstances were that required you to demonstrate leadership.

2. T: Describe the “Task”: Maybe you needed to review the professional body’s existing engagement strategies as a recent membership engagement survey had highlighted a decline in engagement scores. As a result, you needed to introduce changes to how your team operated and interacted with members.

3. A: Discuss the “Action” you took: Here you would describe what research you had undertaken to understand why engagement was declining, what changes to the strategy you made and how you involved your team in the process and subsequent changes that were made.

4. R: Highlight the “Results”: What was the outcome of the changes in strategy and how your team worked? What was the impact on membership engagement levels? By how much did they increase, what were members comments and reviews about the changes you made?

What impact did the changes make on member renewals?


4. Listen and Respond Carefully to Each Question



Preparing for competency-based questions means practising your examples in advance.

However, make sure that your preparation doesn’t lead to you answering questions before you’ve had time to think about your response.

Listen carefully to the question and adapt your example to suit what the interviewer is specifically asking.

For example, if you’re asked to describe a situation where your actions led to an improved experience for your members, think carefully about how you can respond.

For instance, you can talk about how your skills with CRM technology helped you to keep good records of members and follow up with them about their experience in using your membership services.

Important: Use different examples for each question, as this will demonstrate your knowledge and breadth of experience.


Be  Authentic

Being authentic is key to a successful competency-based interview. Let your personality shine through as you use your skills throughout the conversation. This helps the interviewer to experience the breadth of soft-skills and competencies that you possess, some of which may not have been listed on the job description.

While your would-be employer expects you to prepare and do your homework, they’ll be looking for more than just a short yes or no response. Instead, make sure that your answers communicate how you can add value to the role you are applying for and the broader organisation.




About Us

The membershipbespoke group remains the only specialist recruitment organisation in the UK, which offers a dedicated service tailored to the needs of Trade Associations, Unions, Professional and Regulatory Bodies.

We use our considerable expertise in successfully recruiting for positions across every department within a membership context. To find out more call us on 0203 4403653 or email us here.

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