Competency Interview questions
1. Can you name an example of a major problem within your department or organization that you were not initially involved in, and for which you still took responsibility to ensure that everything was resolved? What did you do? Who did you involve in it? How was the problem resolved?
2. Did you consciously deviate from an important agreement or rule? What was going on? How did you communicate that to the stakeholders? On what basis did you make that choice? What was the result?
3. Give an example of an error made by someone else for which you took responsibility towards third parties? Why? What did you do afterwards with regard to the person who made the mistake? What was the outcome?
1. Did your organization ever have to change in a way with which you did not agree? Why and when did you give in to that change?
2. An organization’s policy changes sometimes. Did you ever come across such change and how did you respond to it?
3. In case you ever changed jobs, what were the difficulties you encountered? Describe your personal changing process.
4. Organizations are usually progressing. Could you describe the way your position has changed? How did you cope with this?
5. Could you describe a recent situation in which you had to adjust your plan or rethink your priorities? What was the context and what exactly did you do? What were the adjustments you made and how did you implement them? What was difficult for you to release?
1. Could you give an example that shows how important money is to you?
2. Have you planned your personal career? How does your current position fit in?
3. When are you satisfied with your work? What are your standards?
4. How did you shape your career so far? Why did you want your current position and how did you get there?
5. Why do / did you want this / that position? What have you done to acquire it?
1. What kind of other people's behavior do you find difficult to handle? How come? What exactly do you find difficult? What do you do?
2. Could you give an example of the way you begin a sales interview? Do you ever do it differently? Could you give an example?
3. Could you describe a recent experience in which it was important to make a good first impression? What exactly was the situation? What was your purpose? What happened exactly? What was the outcome?
4. When was the last time you had to convince a client of your qualities? What was the outcome?
5. Could you give an example of a difficult sales interview you experienced recently? What exactly was the situation? What was your purpose? What happened exactly? What was the outcome?
1. How do you check your, and other people’s work for mistakes? When was the last time you did this? How did you do it?
2. Could you give an example of a work situation in which you had to process a large amount of data?
3. Have you ever performed a task for which precision was paramount?
4. What do you do in your position to avoid making mistakes?
5. When was the last time your work was flawless?
1. Are you an enterprising person? Could you give examples?
2. Have you ever been your own boss? What kind of business did you have? What kind of successes did you attain?
3. Have you ever had to think of ways to obtain funding?
4. What did you do in order to improve your results in your last job?
5. Have you ever been in a situation as a manager in which goals were not met? What did you do?
1. How do you enhance your employees' personal development?
2. How do you conduct a development interview with an employee who is lacking motivation? Could you give an example?
3. Could you give an example of an employee you found difficult to coach?
4. Could you give an example of a situation in which you enquired after a colleague’s or employee’s personal circumstances?
5. How much time do you spend on average on your employees’ personal development? Could you give examples of recent, successful personal developments?
1. Clients have both expressed and unexpressed needs. It is often difficult to find out what those unexpressed needs are. Describe the last conversation you had with a client in which you were looking for his needs. How did it go? What did you find out?
2. Describe a recent situation in which you succeeded convincing others of your view despite their resistance. What were the conflicting views and interests and how did you cope with them?
3. When was the last time you had to convince someone? What exactly did you do?
4. Could you give an example of a negotiation in which you estimated the other party’s motives, wishes, or feelings wrongly? What characterizes a good salesperson, according to you? What makes you think that? Which of those traits do you have?
1. Did you ever experience being evaluated differently at first than after people had got to know you better? Could you give an example? What was the difference between their first impression and a later one? What had changed in between?
2. Could you give an example of the way you begin a sales interview? Do you ever do it differently? Could you give an example?
3. Did anyone ever tell you what first impression you made? What did you do with that information?
4. Could you give an example of a presentation you did that did not go according to plan? What happened exactly and how did your audience respond? What was the outcome?
5. What do you find difficult about doing a presentation?
1. If something unpleasant happens to you, how do you respond? How do the people around you respond? Could you give a recent example?
2. How do you respond when somebody offends you or your family?
3. How did you deal with people who actively worked against you in the past? Could you give an example? What exactly did you do to correct this wrong?
4. What style of behavior do you like best? What styles do you find difficult and what are the limits to what you can handle?
5. When someone puts you at a disadvantage by acting against your values or principles, how do you respond? Could you give a recent example?
1. How do your employees inform you with regards to the progress of their work?
2. How do you know exactly what your employees are doing? How do you evaluate the quality of their work? Could you give a few concrete examples? Could you give examples of the kind of your employees’ work that you do check?
3. Could you give examples of the kind of your employees’ work that you do not check?
4. What deadline did you have to meet recently? How did you manage to do so?
1. Were you ever part of a team that failed to reach its targets due to a lack of cooperation? What was your role?
2. What do you think of the way people cooperate in your department? How do you contribute to this cooperation? What problems have occurred in the past?
3. How did you deal in the past with “opponents” in your organization, in other words with people who did not agree with you? Could you give an example?
4. What have you done recently in order to improve cooperation within your team?
1. Could you give an example of a ‘risky’ decision that turned out positively?
2. Could you give an example of a ‘risky’ decision that turned out negatively?
3. Do you like to gamble? Could you give an example of a gamble you took that turned out positively?
4. What was the biggest risk you ever took in your life? How did it turn out?
1. Which creative ideas did you come up with recently? Did those ideas turn out to be effective and attainable? Why?
2. Of which creative achievement from recent times are you most proud? Why are you proud of this particular achievement?
3. Do you think of yourself as a creative person? How does your creativity show? Could you give a few recent examples?
4. How do you make sure that you stand out from other people? Could you give a few recent examples?
5. Did you ever come up with a unique solution for a customer’s problem that nobody else had thought about? Could you give an example?
1. What can you say about a difficult customer you encountered recently? Why was he difficult? What did you do to satisfy the customer?
2. Some customers have unreasonable demands. When did you last encounter such a customer? Why did you find his demands unreasonable? What did you do eventually?
3. Which traits are important in order to interact well with customers? To what extent do you have those traits? To what extent could you train yourself to obtain these characteristics?
4. Could you describe a situation in which you dealt with a customer ineffectively?
5. When was the last time your boss criticized the way you deal with clients? How did you earn this criticism? How did you respond?
1. Have you ever missed an opportunity because you waited too long making a decision? Could you give an example?
2. What was the most difficult decision you have had to make over the last few weeks? What made it difficult? How long did it take you?
3. What kind of decisions do you readily take and for what kind do you take more time? Could you give examples?
4. What kind of decisions usually take you longer to make? Could you give an example?
5. Have you ever made an unpopular decision? Could you give an example?
1. Who takes over your work when you are on leave of absence? Has this ever gone wrong?
2. Which aspects of your work would you rather not leave to any colleague or employee? Could you give an example of the kind of work you would rather not delegate?
3. Which problems occurred when you recently delegated work? What was the biggest blunder?
4. Were you ever unexpectedly unable to do your work? Who took over and how did that go? How do you solve a problem like this?
1. Have you welcomed a new member in your team over the last few months? How did you help this person learn the job? What went well, according to you? What could have been better
2. How do you interact with employees who deliver excellent work? How does that show?
3. How much time do you spend on your employees’ development? In what way do you shape this development?
4. Have you ever set up an employee’s personal development plan? What did you do exactly? What were the results? Would you do it the same way next time?
5. Have you ever employed someone who lacked the right competencies? How did you find out? What did you do?
1. Were you ever in a situation in which your views did not concur with the views of the organization? What did you do? What was the result?
2. Everybody knows situations in which procedures can be a nuisance. Could you give an example of such a situation? What did you do to reach your goal?
3. Could you give an example of a recent situation in which an assignment was not clear to you? What did you do?
4. Did you ever have a difference of opinion with your superior? What did you do? What was the result?
1. What time of day are you most active? When are you least active and least productive?
2. How much have you been working overtime in the last few months?
3. Do you have time for hobbies, clubs, or study outside of your work? How much time have you spent on those over the last month?
4. How did you spend your spare time this week?
5. How much sleep do you normally need? Can you remember a situation in which you had to be alert after little sleep?
1. Have you experienced circumstances over the last month that made it difficult for you to reach your targets? Could you give examples of negative influences these circumstances had on you?
2. Have you ever been put under pressure in order to change your plan or views? What did that do to you?
3. Describe a situation in which another person refused to do what you wanted. How did you win this person over to do what mattered to you?
4. Do you easily adapt to changes? Could you give a few examples that illustrate how you deal with change?
5. Have you recently had a conversation in which you did not achieve your goals? What did you do?
1. How do you check your or other people’s work for mistakes? When did you last do so? How did you do that? Which mistakes did you find?
2. Could you give an example of a situation in which many data needed to be processed? How did you do that? Which mistakes did you find afterwards?
3. Have you ever performed a task in which it was important to be meticulous and impeccable? Could you give an example?
4. What do you do in your work in order to avoid making mistakes?
5. Are you critical in relation to your work? How das it show?
1. Have you ever been influenced by other people when making an important decision?
2. Could you give an example of a situation in which you did not listen to somebody else’s advice? Why did you not take the advice? Did it turn out to be a wise decision?
3. Did you ever regret not listening to somebody else’s advice? Which negative effects did this have for you?
4. Did you ever regret listening to somebody else’s advice? Why exactly?
5. Could you give two examples of successful decisions you have made over the last year? Which alternatives have you considered? Why did those decisions turn out well? To what extent have you considered possible consequences during the process of making the decision?
1. Have you ever made a decision that went against the interest of your employees? Could you describe what happened and what the consequences were?
2. Have you ever made a decision that was in the organization’s interest but not in line with your views? Could you describe what happened and what the consequences were?
3. Has your organization adopted guidelines recently you did not agree with? What did you do? What was the result?
4. What are values, standards or codes of conduct within your organization that you find, or have found, difficult? How did you deal with this difficulty?
5. Describe a recent situation in which your effort at work was not up to scratch. How did it make you feel? What was going on?
1. Describe a difference of opinion with someone you know. To what kind of arguments are you susceptible? To what kind are you less susceptible?
2. Have you ever deliberately breeched a rule or procedure in order to attain your goal? When was that and what did you do exactly?
3. Could you give an example of a situation in which you pursued your plans while the people around you were against it? What happened eventually?
4. Did you ever hold on to an idea or a project despite other people’s resistance? When was that and what did you do exactly?
1. What has been your most original idea in your work? What have you done to implement this idea successfully?
2. Of which of your achievements are you most proud?
3. Which positive changes in your work have been predominantly your own idea?
4. What bothers you currently in your work? What are you going to do about it?
5. Have you made any proposals to your superior over the last month? Why (not)?
1. Which innovative ideas have you come up with in your work over the last year?
2. How do you make sure your work stands out from others’? Could you give a recent example?
3. Have you ever developed new products or services? To what extent have they been marketed successfully?
4. What do you regard to be your most innovative product or service so far?
5. Do you find yourself a creative thinker? How does that show?
1. Has it ever happened that your analysis of a problem turned out to be very different to what you had expected? Give an example. What had you not assessed properly? How would you avoid this re-occurring?
2. When did you have difficulty understanding a particular problem? Why was this so difficult? How did you finally resolve it?
3. Which steps do you take when you want to correctly analyze a problem? Describe this process using a recent problem as an example.
1. Have you ever been put under pressure in order to act against your feelings? What did you do? What did it do to you afterwards?
2. Have you ever had the feeling that you brushed someone off?
3. Could you give an example of a recent situation in which your integrity caused a personal problem? What was the situation exactly? What were your considerations? What did you do eventually?
4. Could you give an example of a situation in which you were tempted to act against your integrity? What did you do and why? How did it turn out?
5. Has it happened to you recently that you could not meet an appointment? Can you explain the reason for this? What did you do in order to mend the situation?
1. Could you indicate how you interact with your most successful employee?
2. Could you indicate how you interact with your least successful employee?
3. What do you do in order to motivate your employees?
4. Could you give an example of a recent situation in which you made a remark to an employee regarding disappointing results?
5. Were you ever confronted with an employee lacking motivation? What did you do in order to motivate this person?
1. In what ways have you developed over the last year? How does that show?
2. Could you give an example of a situation in which you learned from your mistakes?
3. Did you ever do an extra training course? What did you learn? Could you give a concrete example of the way you put that lesson into practice?
4. Could you give an example of something you learned elsewhere and practise in your current work?
5. In which areas do you want to develop further? How will you do that?
1. Could you give an example of a situation in which you listened carefully to another person? How did that show?
2. Could you give an example of a situation in which you obtained information by listening very carefully - information someone else might have missed?
3. Could you give an example of a situation in which you gained more information than anybody else by listening carefully?
4. Could you give an example of a conversation in which you did not obtain the information you wanted?
1. In which ways do you pass on goals and instructions to your employees?
2. Describe how you select, develop and evaluate your employees.
3. Describe a situation in which you addressed an employee and commented on his underperformance.
4. Describe a situation in which you motivated an underperforming employee by a positive approach
5. Do you often take a leading role? Could you give examples?
1. When are you satisfied with your work? What are your standards?
2. What kind of work do you tend to put off? What do you find difficult in that kind of work? How do you deal with it practically?
3. What do you do if you notice a lack of effort in your colleagues?
4. Which extra tasks did you fulfill in your last position without them being part of your job description?
5. Describe a recent situation in which your effort at work was not up to scratch. How did it make you feel? What was going on?
1. Describe a situation in which your negotiation turned out differently than you had expected. What happened? What was the result?
2. Describe a situation in which your negotiation turned out exactly as you had planned. What happened? What did you do? Why did everything go according to plan?
3. Could you give an example of a situation in which you estimated the other party’s motives, wishes, or feelings wrongly?
4. Could you give an example of a negotiation in which you felt put under pressure? What consequences did this have for the negotiation’s outcome?
5. Could you give an example of a risk you took in a negotiation that turned out badly?
1. How do you use LinkedIn and which new, active contacts have you encountered there?
2. Are you a sociable person? Could you give examples that show you are sociable?
3. When did you last make contact with someone you did not know? What kind of relationship do you have with that person now?
4. Have you met any new people over the last few months? What did you do in order to meet these people?
5. How do you keep your network updated and active?
1. How did you stay informed over the last few months about the events and developments that take place in your organization or department?
2. Which conflicting interests do you see in your organization?
3. What problems has your department dealt with in the past? How did you approach those problems? What would you do differently next time?
4. What are your organization’s most important values and principles and how do you practically implement them?
5. With which departments do you deal most? When?
1. Could you comment on a number of problems you have encountered in order to arrive where you are now?
2. What has been the biggest disappointment you ever encountered in your work? How did you deal with it?
3. Have you ever had a good idea that nobody was really interested in? What did you do to have it implemented anyway?
4. Have you ever encountered a big disappointment in your work that you found hard to take? What exactly did you find difficult? How did you solve the problem?
5. Could you give an example of a situation in which you feel you did not persist long enough?
1. What characterizes a good salesperson, according to you? What makes you think that? Which of those traits do you have?
2. Could you comment on a proposal you once made that was not accepted by your superior? Why was it not? What would you do differently next time?
3. Could you comment on a proposal you once made that was accepted by your superior? What did you do right this time? Would you do it differently next time anyway?
4. Could you give an example of a difficult sales interview you have had recently? What was the situation and what did you do exactly?
5. When was the last time you had to convince someone? What exactly did you do?
1. How have you prepared for this interview?
2. Could you describe a regular working day or week? To what extent are all your activities planned on forehand?
3. Which goals did you have over the last year? Did you meet them? If so, how? If not, why?
4. Have you ever had to revise your planning because of an unexpected event? Could you give an example? What did you do?
5. Did you ever have to review a time scheme because of unforeseen circumstances? Could you give an example?
1. Could you give an example of a situation in which your political attitude was of benefit to you?
2. Could you give an example of a situation in which your political attitude worked against you?
3. Could you give an example of a situation in which your political non-attitude was of benefit to you?
4. Could you give an example of a situation in which your political non-attitude worked against you?
1. Could you describe a presentation you did recently? What do you think went well and what could have been better?
2. Could you give an example of a presentation you did that invoked critical questions from the audience? How did you respond? What was the result? What would you do differently next time?
3. Did you ever do a presentation that failed? How did you know it failed? What did you do during the presentation to correct this?
4. What do you find difficult about doing a presentation?
5. What presentation do you consider to be your best? Why?
1. What was the last time you were confronted with an unexpected problem? What was the problem exactly? What caused it? What did you do to solve it?
2. Which steps do you take when analyzing a problem? Could you describe this process using a recent problem you encountered?
3. Did your analysis of a problem ever turn out to be completely different than you had expected? Could you give an example? What did you get wrong? How could this be avoided next time?
4. What are specifically complex problems to you? Could you give an example?
5. It is sometimes difficult to predict the course of a process. Could you give an example of this happening to you?
1. How do you set priorities and goals in your current work? Could you give concrete examples?
2. How do you make sure you meet deadlines in your work? Did you ever not meet an important deadline? Could you give an example? What would you do differently next time?
3. What do you do if it looks like your work may not be finished on time?
4. Could you give an example of a situation in which you blamelessly failed to meet a deadline? Why did you not meet the deadline? What did you do in order to minimize the damage? What did you learn?
1. Where do you want to be in three years? What are you going to do in order to arrive there?
2. Are you driven to reach your goals? How does that show? Could you give a few concrete examples?
3. What have you done in order to develop yourself into your current position?
4. Are you critical with regards to your own achievements? Could you give a few examples to illustrate this?
1. Could you give an example of a conversation you had with an employee who had a problem? Who took the initiative for this conversation? What did you do in order to help solving the problem?
2. When did you last encounter an employee who was emotional? What did you do? Would you do something differently next time?
3. Could you give an example of a recent situation in which somebody else responded to a problem completely differently than you would have done? How did you respond?
4. When do you give colleagues or employees a compliment?
5. Did it ever happen to you that a colleague asked you something to which you could not oblige - this being very disappointing to her?
1. What do you do in your spare time?
2. Are you a sociable person? Could you give examples that show you are sociable?
3. When did you last make contact with someone you did not know?
4. Have you recently been to a reception or another social event? How did you spend your time there?
5. Were you ever in a situation in which it was difficult for you to keep a conversation going?
1. Which magazines and newspapers have you read recently? Which direct influence do events have on your surroundings?
2. How did you stay informed with regards to developments in your profession over the last year?
3. Which social developments of the last years have had an impact on your work?
4. Which social developments in the near future could have an impact on your work?
5. What is the relationship between economic, social and political developments and your daily work? Could you give an example?
1. What do you consider to be stressful? Could you give an example of such a situation? What does it do to you?
2. Could you describe a recent event in which you felt impatient or frustrated with a customer?
3. What has been your biggest disappointment recently? How did you deal with it?
4. Did you ever encounter someone who was strongly emotional (aggressive, angry, impatient)? How did you respond?
5. Could you describe a recent situation in which you were put under pressure?
1. Have you ever received comments on the way you express yourself? Could you give an example?
2. Have you ever noticed that an employee did not understand an assignment you had given orally? How did it show she did not understand? What did you do?
3. Did you ever do presentations or give speeches? Could you give a recent example?
4. What is your reputation as a speaker? Could you give an example?
5. Describe a situation in which oral communication was very important to you. What was your role? How did you do it?
1. What is your opinion about the future of your profession? What are the concrete consequences for your organization? Which threats and opportunities do you see for yourself?
2. What do you perceive to be foresight? What are important criteria to you?
3. In what ways do you take a step back from your daily routine in order to decide a direction for the future?
4. Which developments are a threat to your organization in the near future?
5. Which developments will provide opportunities to your organization in the near future?
1. What changes in your field in recent years have strongly influenced your work
2. What do you think is the most important field in your subject area? Why? Can you give an example What are you doing to keep your knowledge about your field active and up to date? What was the most recent thing you learned?
3. What have you done recently to improve your own work?
1. What has been the most difficult piece you ever had to write? What was so difficult about writing it?
2. Which aspects of the English language do you find difficult? Could you give an example?
3. What concrete writing experience do you have? What kinds of work have you written and for which audiences?
4. Could you rewrite the following sentence in proper English: “Paul McCartney is an artist born in the year 1942 with which he has won several prizes”.
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