Get a Quote

Finding The Right Star – Competency-Based Interviewing

We are working on a very tight project schedule. Most of our staff members work late almost every day. Are you prepared to work long hours?

What is cost control? Are you good at it?

We often hear these leading questions during job interviews – a common mistake hiring mangers make. As a result we end up having a wrong person on the job. We getting frustrated, and worst, we have wasted money and time on recruitment.

Competency-based interviews can help.

Eligibility + Suitability = Good Fit

Most recruiting managers find it relatively easy to identify the characteristics that a candidate will need to possess to make them eligible for a job.

Typically, Eligibility has to do with professional or academic qualifications, relevant experience or specific job-related skills and knowledge. These can be verified by reference to certificates. This includes diplomas and records in the case of qualifications.

Or, it is done fairly straightforward by tests in the case of technical skills.

In many situations, however, an excellent performer is someone who has not only technical skills but is also suitable for the job. Suitability is much more about the way people will go about doing the job once they are on it.

Suitability tends to be about people’s attitudes and behavioural tendencies. They are the factors defined as Value-Based Competencies. It is typically much more difficult to get a clear idea of how suitable people will be before they are appointed.

REN - competency-based interview

Hence, suitability is one aspect we often overlook. As depicted by the Chinese word “Ren” illustrated above, where the two strokes supporting each other signify that “knowledge and skills” have to be complemented by “Attitudes”, a person with relevant knowledge and skills but inappropriate attitude will not be able to contribute as much to his corporate and the community.

Moreover, the higher the skills and knowledge of a person, the greater damage he can do to the organisation if his attitude is flawed.

Competency-Based Interviewing Technique

The art of finding the right person (Star) is to use a structured approach. Therefore, we identify the relevant past behaviour to allow forming a judgement on likely future behaviour. Such approach is known as Competency-Based Interview (CBI).

Using this approach helps to:

  • Eliminate misunderstandings about an individual’s experience,
  • Prevent personal impressions from affecting evaluation and
  • Reduce an individual’s opportunity to mislead or exaggerate their capability
Competency-Based Interviewing

A skilful interviewer is a detective who tries to find examples that are evidence of desired behaviour from a person’s past experiences. To achieve this, some preparation is needed:

  • Define job requirements that are essential for a successful job holder – purpose of the role, line of reporting, responsibilities and competencies.
  • Decide on the competencies you are looking for
  • Develop competency-based interview questions using STAR approach (Figure 2).

Focus on the three key competencies that the role requires. In order to allow a sufficient conversation you should plan for 10 to 15 minutes per competency.

Hence, through using CBI, the candidate’s fitness, his suitability for the job is measured by projecting his past behaviour on the required competencies. This usually gives the candidate the benefit of talking about real experience – if he has. And it gives the interviewer the advantage of getting into a much more fruitful discussion using an important measuring scale, the required competencies and their necessary behaviours.

competency-based interview


In conclusion, identifying knowledge and skill set of a candidate is rather easy. However, finding the right mind-set is a more difficult task. Using a set of value and competency-based interview questions enables managers to spot the STAR, the person who does not only bring the required aptitude but also “fits” in the organisation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
CBIcompetencycompetency based interviewinginterviewing techniquerecruitmentresourcing

Amy BC Tan

Amy is the Executive Director at the Centre of Organisational Effectiveness (COE Pte Ltd). She has more than 20 years of experience in human resource management and organisational development in various industries.

She has held senior leadership positions with Nokia, Aon, Ministry of Manpower and Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee. She has led the transformation of the HR functions and several organisational development initiatives for multiple organisations.

Amy is also trained in Creative Problem Solving and certified as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, an accredited practitioner in executive coaching and psychological instruments such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator®), DiSC, Harrison Assessment and Belbin Team Roles.

Amy can be reached via

Categorised Tag Cloud
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google
Consent to display content from - Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from - Sound