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Competency Based Interview Questions

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

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Competencies are the skills, behaviors and knowledge you will be bringing to the employer. Employers in interviews will often use competency based questions to discover how you apply your skills in the workplace.

Here are some sample questions to consider...


Please give me your best example of working cooperatively as a team member to accomplish an important goal.

o What was the goal or objective?

o What was your role in achieving this objective?

Describe a project you were responsible for that required a lot of interaction with others over a long time period.

Customer Service

Provide an example of a time when you had to address an angry customer.

o What was the problem and what was the outcome?

o How would you assess your role in defusing the situation?

o What might you have done differently?

Tell me about a marketing/information initiative you developed.

o How did it meet customer need(s)?

Commitment to Quality Improvement

Tell me about a suggestion you made to improve the way job processes or operations worked.

o What was the result?

Give me an example of when you initiated a change in process or operations.

Tell me about a time when you had to compromise a company policy.

In your last job, what problems did you identify that had previously been overlooked?

o Were changes made?

o How were they received?


Describe the most significant or creative presentation/idea that you developed/implemented.

Describe a time when you came up with a creative solution/idea/project to a problem in your work.


By providing examples, demonstrate that you can adapt to a variety of people, situations and/or environments.

What do you do when priorities change quickly?

o Give me one example of when this happened.

What are some things your current employer could do to keep you?

Continuous Learning/Development

Describe a decision you made or a situation that you would have handled differently if you had to do it over again.

If I were to ask you current supervisor problems that they have with your performance, what would they tell me?

o After having been made aware of a problem in your performance, what was your course of action?

Tell me about a time when your supervisor/co-workers gave you feedback about your work/actions.

o What did you learn about yourself?

What have you done to further your own professional development?

Tell me about a recent experience that you would describe as a real learning experience, and what did you learn?


What risks did you take in your present/previous job? Tell me about it.

Tell me about your efforts to “sell” a new idea to your supervisor.

Describe a time when you sought out additional responsibility and went beyond what was required of you. Mutual Respect

Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a difference of opinion with a co-worker/customer/supervisor.

Tell me about a time when you needed to give feedback to a sensitive/emotional employee. What was the outcome?

o Same question but regarding a student/alumni.

Describe the way you handled a problem involving those with different values, ideas and beliefs.

Interpersonal Skills

Give me an example of a time when you had to address an angry customer.

o What was the problem and outcome?

Tell me about the most difficult challenge you faced in trying to work cooperatively with someone who did not share the same ideas.

o What was the long-term impact on your ability to get things done while working with this person?

Describe a work situation that required you to really listen and display compassion to a co-worker/student who was telling you about a personal/sensitive situation.

Sensitivity to Diversity

Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a wide variety of people by understanding their perspective.

Tell me about a time that you successfully adapted to a culturally different environment.

How have you taken responsibility/accountability for an action that may have been offensive to the recipient?

What have you done to make another person feel comfortable in an environment that was uncomfortable with their presence?


Tell me about a specific time when you had to handle a tough problem which challenged fairness or ethical issues.

Tell me about a tough decision you made.

o What steps, thought processes, and considerations did you take to make an objective decision?

Provide an example which provides insight into how you handle office gossip.

Effective Conflict Resolution

Describe your relationship with your supervisor.

o Tell me about a time when you and your supervisor disagreed but you still found a way to convey your point.

Thinking of the most difficult person you have had to deal with, describe an interaction illustrating that difficulty.

o Tell me about the last time you dealt with him/her.

Positive Attitude

What 3 specific things about your last job gave you the most satisfaction? Why?

What have you done in your last job that makes you feel proud?

Describe your best boss and your worst boss.


Give me a specific example of a time when you did not meet a deadline.

o How did you handle it?

Are you better at working on many things at a time, or are you better at working on and getting results on a few specific things?

o Please give me two examples that illustrate this.

Name one of your best accomplishments, including where the assignment came from, your plans in carrying it out, how you eventually did carry it out, and any obstacles your overcame.

Of your current assignments, which required the greatest amount of effort in planning/organization?

o How did you accomplish this assignment?

o How would you assess your effectiveness?

Make Effective Decisions

Tell me about a decision you made but wish you had done differently.

Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

How do you define common sense? Describe a time recently when you had to rely on common sense.

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