This tends to be the most common type of interview question. Questions asked are structured to reflect the competencies sought by an employer for a particular job. You should be able to find out which competencies the employer is most interested in by looking at the recruitment pages of their website, and job descriptions usually include a 'person specification' or ‘essential selection criteria’, which will list the competencies required – the skills, experience, knowledge and other attributes for which the organisation is looking.
For example, the employer may be looking for someone with organisational skills, and may choose to ask you a series of questions designed to steadily probe not only your experience in this area, but your understanding of the skills involved. The questions may follow a pattern such as:
- Would you describe yourself as an organised person?
- How have you demonstrated organisational skills? What did you do? What would you do differently next time?
- What makes a good organiser?
- Why are organisational skills important?
- Surely … (the interviewer challenges something you say in order to find out more)…?
For more information on general graduate competencies see our information on developing your employability skills
When preparing, try to map out your experiences using your CV, and identify which ones best demonstrate each of the competencies the recruiter is looking for. During your interview try to talk about a range of situations you have been in which demonstrate your breadth of experience and evidence different competencies. You might find the S.T.A.R acronym useful - Situation, Task, Action, Result - when you are answering questions. See our page on how to show you fit the job criteria for more information.
Some general questions to prepare for:
- Tell me about a time when you demonstrated strong leadership skills.
- Describe a project that you planned or organised. What did you do to make it a success?
- Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team to deliver a goal.
- Give me an example of a change you have initiated yourself or an improvement you have identified.
- Describe a situation in which you had to persuade someone round to your way of thinking; how did you use your communication skills to convince them?
- When you were in a situation that tested your resilience, how did you persevere?
- Describe a difficult problem you have faced and how you resolved it.