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Competency based interviews

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    Hello,

    Competency based interviews seem to be the standard form of interview for internships and grad. schemes, im applying for internships and could do with some tips on how to do well. I have had a telephone interview which was purely competency based, it was just consecutive questions for about an hour which was just "tell me about a time when..." or to outline my own qualities.
    I was wondering if anyone had any advice from when they'd been successful in these interviews?

    Also, I know the old "what are your weaknesses?" is a classic question, whats the best way to approach these questions? Is it to try and turn it into a positive or genuinely think of a negative thing about yourself? I understand that being able to identify your own weaknesses is important but is it better to try and put a positive spin on things?

    Secondly, do interviewers want different examples for each question? In my last interview I only had a handful of experiences to base it on and when there was probably about 30 questions it became difficult to think of 30 different examples when id only completed 6th form and had one job.

    Any other general advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks
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    sub'd to read later.
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    (Original post by hypercaine.)
    Hello,

    Competency based interviews seem to be the standard form of interview for internships and grad. schemes, im applying for internships and could do with some tips on how to do well. I have had a telephone interview which was purely competency based, it was just consecutive questions for about an hour which was just "tell me about a time when..." or to outline my own qualities.
    I was wondering if anyone had any advice from when they'd been successful in these interviews?
    The usual advice is to try and stick to the STAR format, because it is simple, easy to remember under the pressure of interview conditions, and it gives a structure to your answers. So in response to the question you give the Situation, and therefore the Task as you perceived it or it was apparent, the Actions you took, planned, offered etc and the Result. You are supposed to talk for about 80% of the interview, so don't skip stages and present a full answer - but don't ramble either.

    (Original post by hypercaine.)
    Also, I know the old "what are your weaknesses?" is a classic question, whats the best way to approach these questions? Is it to try and turn it into a positive or genuinely think of a negative thing about yourself? I understand that being able to identify your own weaknesses is important but is it better to try and put a positive spin on things?
    One way it to cut straight to a solution. I'd really like to get some more experience of [something you know this job would give you the opportunity to do] as I don't feel very confident about my abilities. Lack of confidence, lack of flexibility because of lack of experience are reasonable 'weakness' to have.

    (Original post by hypercaine.)
    Secondly, do interviewers want different examples for each question? In my last interview I only had a handful of experiences to base it on and when there was probably about 30 questions it became difficult to think of 30 different examples when id only completed 6th form and had one job.
    On forms, read the language of the question VERY carefully. In most cases they are building up the questions and although they may seem superficially similar, they are asking for different things. Though there are some forms which are simply bad! Make sure you read the questions first and plan how to share out your limited experiences, but it is ok for example to use a sports team to show leadership, teamwork, problem solving, but make the example different eg winning the league as captain, getting better attendance at training for teamwork, and raising money for new training kit for problem solving.
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    The usual advice is to try and stick to the STAR format, because it is simple, easy to remember under the pressure of interview conditions, and it gives a structure to your answers. So in response to the question you give the Situation, and therefore the Task as you perceived it or it was apparent, the Actions you took, planned, offered etc and the Result. You are supposed to talk for about 80% of the interview, so don't skip stages and present a full answer - but don't ramble either.

    One way it to cut straight to a solution. I'd really like to get some more experience of [something you know this job would give you the opportunity to do] as I don't feel very confident about my abilities. Lack of confidence, lack of flexibility because of lack of experience are reasonable 'weakness' to have.

    On forms, read the language of the question VERY carefully. In most cases they are building up the questions and although they may seem superficially similar, they are asking for different things. Though there are some forms which are simply bad! Make sure you read the questions first and plan how to share out your limited experiences, but it is ok for example to use a sports team to show leadership, teamwork, problem solving, but make the example different eg winning the league as captain, getting better attendance at training for teamwork, and raising money for new training kit for problem solving.
    Thanks a lot! This is definitely what I was looking for. I havent specifically looked at the STAR format despite seeing it being thrown around quite a lot, it seems like I answer in that format naturally anyway. Sometimes I do feel like I try and explain the situation a bit too much though when its all just irrelevant information which they dont care about.

    Since posting this thread ive identified a weakness of mine as often getting started with projects to quickly or jumping in but I am working on this and I now try to do some further research or background reading before getting started so I have a clear understanding before I begin. Do you think this would be suitable or a good way to approach it?

    Yeah this is what I was asking, I used academic examples for teamwork quite a lot because there was a measure of success at the end, as opposed to working in a bar where there is no real measure of success (an A* on a group project is great, taking a few thousand £ in a bar can be good for a tiny country pub or terrible for a city nightclub!) but I did use working in a bar as the situation for a few questions before such as leadership (I was a supervisor), organising events, dealing with difficult customers, etc. but I always thought that they want to hear different things for each?
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    (Original post by hypercaine.)
    Since posting this thread ive identified a weakness of mine as often getting started with projects to quickly or jumping in but I am working on this and I now try to do some further research or background reading before getting started so I have a clear understanding before I begin. Do you think this would be suitable or a good way to approach it?
    I'd try to frame it more constructively and as if you have thought about this a bit more, eg I'm aware that with the smaller problems I've met in life, like my DofE expedition, I've rushed into things a bit and not planned the whole project as well as I could have. I know I'm going to have to hold on to my enthusiasm and take a more measured and planned approach to the larger business problems I'll face in this role. Especially when my actions are part of a bigger team project and people/clients are relying on me.

    (Original post by hypercaine.)
    I always thought that they want to hear different things for each?
    They are idiots if they do! They have your CV/application in front of them and they can see your experience level. But in an hour long interview, there will be 8-10 questions of which the first will nearly always be why this job/company and a couple more may be a different format, so there will be 6-8 competency style questions, so make sure that if you only have school, uni, one main sport and one part time job, you share the competencies around and have a bit of overlap ie two examples of leadership etc.
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    (Original post by hypercaine.)
    Thanks a lot! This is definitely what I was looking for. I havent specifically looked at the STAR format despite seeing it being thrown around quite a lot, it seems like I answer in that format naturally anyway. Sometimes I do feel like I try and explain the situation a bit too much though when its all just irrelevant information which they dont care about.

    Since posting this thread ive identified a weakness of mine as often getting started with projects to quickly or jumping in but I am working on this and I now try to do some further research or background reading before getting started so I have a clear understanding before I begin. Do you think this would be suitable or a good way to approach it?

    Yeah this is what I was asking, I used academic examples for teamwork quite a lot because there was a measure of success at the end, as opposed to working in a bar where there is no real measure of success (an A* on a group project is great, taking a few thousand £ in a bar can be good for a tiny country pub or terrible for a city nightclub!) but I did use working in a bar as the situation for a few questions before such as leadership (I was a supervisor), organising events, dealing with difficult customers, etc. but I always thought that they want to hear different things for each?
    For this bit a simple qualifier such as 'which amongst the highest recorded for our country pub' gives a setting to your achievement which they can relate to more.

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