ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.
If you are facing a competency-based job interview, leading career coach Mike Higgins offers a guide to using the STAR technique to ace your interview
There are many types of interviews, from the free flowing to the formal, but one that you are likely to come up against at some point is the competency-based interview.
They're designed to make the job application process as objective as possible, removing any conscious or subconscious bias by the interviewer by asking each candidate the same questions. Some people feel this type of interview is more stilted – there can be less opportunity to build rapport. However, they are very common, especially in large organisations and the public sector, so it's worth refining your technique.
Competency Based Interviews
The questions will be driven by a competency framework that's required for the job. For example, a marketing executive may require problem-solving skills, or a job in customer services may require conflict management skills.
The interview questions tend to start with a variation of, "Tell me about a time when…" This may sound simple but, in the heat of the interview, it's easy to give an unstructured answer, miss out key details, or let the story peter to a halt.
One way of avoiding this is by using the Star acronym to structure your response. Here are two examples of how to implement the technique:
A candidate for a marketing executive role might be asked: "Tell me about a time that you solved a problem to a tight timescale." Here's how you could structure your response:
The interview questions tend to start with a variation of, "Tell me about a time when…" It's easy to give an unstructured answer, miss out key details, or let the story peter to a halt.
There are a few things to note with this response: it's important to speak in specific rather than general terms and quantify your success. In this example, we mentioned 30 delegates, the names of the people involved and quantified two contacts converted to clients.
From a listener's perspective, this makes the story more interesting and they are more able to gauge your success. Nameless figures and undefined successes can make the answer feel less convincing. Secondly, as there are likely to be many questions and interviewers have short attention spans, it's important to keep your answers concise: convey the maximum achievement in the minimum time. Finally, it's important to finish on a positive note so the overall impression is strong.
In a second example, a candidate for a customer services role is asked: "Describe a situation when you had to deliver excellent customer service following a complaint"
Used at its best, the Star structure is invisible to the listener and it simply comes across as a well-articulated example. Create a bank of answers in this format in advance, so you don't struggle to do it on the day and you can make it appear as seamless as possible.