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How to Deal with the Fear of Competency Interviews?

Tips on how to tackle competency interview anxiety

Tips on how to tackle competency interview anxiety

I can hear the panic in Tom’s voice. He is my new client and he is asking me for help with preparing for a competency interview. Tom secured an interview with a consulting firm ( very exciting news) but they want to do a competency interview (not so exciting news in his opinion). Tom is a Senior Manager, great at his job, confident, smart and people person but he hates interviews. And he hates competency interviews even more.

I know that Tom is not the only one. There are so many successful people who fall apart during the interview process. It is OK to be nervous, it is completely normal but you don’t want to be so nervous that you mess up the interview and lose the chance to get the job. Here are few tips to help you. If you need more help feel free to reach out and have a chat here.

First thing- Don’t panic! Having to interview can be scary for most of people. Especially if your financial security depends on getting the job, or if this is your dream job and you really want it. Stakes are high and you don’t want to mess it up. 

You might have been in your job for years and have not interviewed for a long time. Going back to interviewing can be daunting. You are out of practice and although you know you are great at your job,  you might not know how to sell yourself.  Alternatively you don’t have much work experience, you are shy, or you don’t feel you have strong communication skills.  Whatever your situation, level of seniority or length of time in your job the only way to overcome the fear is to prepare! Every interview is different and there always will be the unknown so preparation is the key.

Remember an interview is a two way street. Although the company has a choice of choosing the right candidate, you have a choice of choosing the right company. As much as you might need the role, you have the skills to offer so know your worth! Don’t let the stress of an interview intimidate you! Instead get excited to tell them all about you. They called you for an interview because they think you can do the role. From all the applicants, they chose you so focus on that.

If you are still worried, ask yourself;

  • What is making me nervous?
  • Is it the fear of speaking?
  • Is it the formal set up?
  • Is it the fear of not knowing how to answer the questions they ask you, or not knowing what questions to ask at the end?

Whatever it is, pin point the problem and start working on it by practising.

What are competency interviews?

These type of interviews will test your understanding of the role and level you can perform the role at. You will be asked specifically designed questions focusing on a competency required to perform the role.

These interviews can be scary for many people but once you understand how to answer them, you will tackle them easily.

Always talk about your involvement in the situation you’re being asked about. Focus on your role and what YOU did, not your wider team.

Start with the brief description of the scenario or a problem. State your involvement in the situation and what steps you took to resolved it. Highlight the outcome and what you learnt from the situation.

My Tip- Do not over complicate things

Think of your day to day duties. I am sure you experienced challenges, difficult decisions, conflicts or improvements you made in your most recent role.

Remember: choose a scenario that has already happened and you know the outcome. If you are giving an example of project you are currently working on, you won’t be able to talk about the outcome and close of the question.

Remember: choose an example relatable to the role you are applying for. Unless you are new on the career ladder, using examples from your personal or university life is not recommended. You want to demonstrate that you understand the question.

If you want practical examples of competency interviews check out here. I have a full chapter dedicated to interview strategies.

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