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Top 25 Competency Interview Questions

Question 1 of 25
How do you deal in uncomfortable situations?
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Question 2 of 25
Give me an example of a challenge you overcame in your last position.
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How to Answer
Demonstrate your positive approach to problem-solving. Show that you are proactive and competent when it comes to challenging workplace situations. Perhaps you went over and above to meet a tight deadline while taking over the responsibilities of a co-worker who was out sick. Another example could be that you trained yourself on a new software that was difficult to understand.

In your answer, focus on the steps you took to overcome the challenge, rather than the challenge itself. The interviewer wants to hear that you are determined and able to problem solve.

Answer Example
"The biggest challenge that I overcame in my last position was that I was brand new to the industry. I had sales experience; however, I knew very little about the oil and energy industry. I took my evenings and weekends to study hard on industry background, and trends. It didn't take me long to feel comfortable and confident when speaking with potential clients. All it took was some time and dedication!"
Admin Example
"When starting my last role, there were 35 critical leadership openings in the business. It was causing a huge challenge for the businesses to function and meet their key initiatives. I worked closely partnering with talent acquisition to accomplish the successful hiring and training of all roles."
Manager Example
"My last challenge was to complete product testing within a deadline that was very tight. I was able to keep the test cells running 24 hours a day by monitoring their status from my laptop at home and by asking team members on later shifts to stop by and make sure they could hear it running."
Marketing Example
"In my last position, I was tasked with fixing a very broken website. So, I not only learned WordPress, but shopped other providers and learned that WooCommerce was not the best fit for our needs, and migrated the site over to Shopify. I had to teach myself some basic code, as I had minimal resources or support within my organization. In any event, I got the site up and running and working better than ever!"
Retail Example
"When I first arrived in my position, the inventory management in our store was out of control. Clothing was stashed in the back room, in every nook and cranny imaginable. I decided to take hold of that project immediately, setting a new standard for the floor sales staff."
Sales Example
"I would say the biggest challenge I overcame in my previous position was my lack of outside sales experience. I had inside sales and account management but had never done a cold pitch. At first, it was uncomfortable, but as I became more confident in the company and my knowledge of the industry, I learned what an asset I could be in outside sales. By meeting prospects face-to-face, I could assess not only their sincerity and level of interest but also connect on a personal level. What's ironic is the thing that gave me the greatest pause about taking the position became my favorite part of the job. It's something I look forward to continuing to do daily with your organization, should I be offered the position."
Teacher Example
"The district was running a referendum to pass what would get cut from the budget and had a list of proposed cuts; elementary Spanish was at the top of the list. Being told that, purely for budgetary reasons, my job and department would be gone was quite a challenge. We saved the program, in large part due to the support of my current and former students and their families."
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Question 3 of 25
Name a few things you were asked to do in your most recent position that you weren't necessarily trained to do. How did you cope?
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How to Answer
The interviewer wants to know how you approach a situation when you do not necessarily possess the knowledge to complete a task. Most of us ask others for help, or conduct research to find the answer. Highlight to the interviewer that you are competent when it comes to leading yourself to the right answer. Show that you do not get frustrated; rather, you take it as an opportunity to grow.

Answer Example
"When I first started my current role, I was asked to present to my team about an idea I wanted to implement that would save the company money and time. I had never done this before and the idea of presenting made me a bit nervous. I spent a good deal of time researching viable business solutions. I played around with PowerPoint and watched some YouTube videos on how to put together an engaging slide show. It turned out great and I learned a lot from the experience."
Admin Example
"I worked for a lean organization that had a lot of crossover between HR, Marketing and IT. Often, I would be asked to perform the functions of a department for which I did not work. We are all on the same team so I would figure out what to do and get it done, then later recommend a process to better handle the type of situation in the future."
Manager Example
"I was regularly asked to participate in internal ISO audits, which I had never done before, so I had to learn the standards and how to run an audit appropriately. I was also promoted to a team lead and had a direct report to monitor. This role was my first supervisory position, so I had never approved time sheets or handled employment-related concerns. I asked for advice when possible, and researched on my own time whenever necessary."
Marketing Example
"I was not trained specifically on most of my job, so it's all self-taught or intuitive. I have taught myself PhotoShop, and that's been helpful in both social media and email campaigns. I have also taught myself WordPress which is the basis of the new website I created, and manage, for my employer."
Retail Example
"I had minimal training going into my new role. I received training on the POS system but nothing formal surrounding sales scripts, the return policy, or merchandising. Through many online tutorials and YouTube videos, I taught myself how to sell! I also memorized the return policies in the first week."
Sales Example
"Having worked in a startup, I am no stranger to "figure it out on the fly" type of mentality, almost to the point where I was figuring things out as I went more than I was implementing the training I had received. One example that comes to mind was dealing with a seemingly exciting prospect who went dark. I decided to hop in the car and show up at their door to have the conversation face-to-face. This tactic was unheard of in my company, but my gut said I had to do it. It turned out very well, and I was able to overcome a ton of objections that would have taken dozens of phone calls."
Teacher Example
"I'd say the best example of tackling something not explicitly in training would be working with students with exceptionalities. Sure, I have training in theory, but every single child is different as it is, so when there is an additional layer like a diagnosis or challenge to overcome, the learning in the college classroom is quite different than application in the daily class. I've found it's best to read their file, talk to their previous teachers and family as necessary, and then take it as it comes, just like any other kiddo."
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Question 4 of 25
Do you consider yourself a patient person? How do you increase your patience level in challenging situations?
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How to Answer
The interviewer would like to know if you consider yourself a patient individual. Impatience can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in coworkers, so it is essential that you can showcase your ability to remain patient and professional in workplace situations.

Patience is indeed a virtue but can be challenging to maintain when it seems that situations continue to push your buttons. Show the interviewer that you possess the ability to keep your cool in challenging conditions.

Answer Example
"I do consider myself a patient person. I would rate myself an 8/10 for patience because I certainly have room to grow, but I do have a very long fuse. If I need a boost of patience in a challenging situation, I will take a step away, count to 10 and then return to the situation. I recently read a book, 'The Power of Patience' by M.J. Ryan which also gave me some excellent new methods for coping with stress."
Admin Example
"I am fairly patient, with other people. I tend to be impatient with myself if I am not finishing a project as fast as I think I should be. But, I am learning to be patient with myself as well. I find that breathing exercises, and closing my eyes for a few seconds can help me regroup."
Manager Example
"I was once managing a group that could not quite get along, and it tested my patience a bit because it prevented us from staying on track and focusing on the goals. I went above and beyond in helping the group get along by scheduling lunches as a team and helping to mediate situations that needed it."
Marketing Example
"I feel I'm pretty patient overall but obviously have my limits. When I feel my limits pushed, I try to take a step away to regain the composure needed to approach the situation with a level head. If that isn't an option, I will take a sip of water and a few deep yoga breaths and try to approach the situation from another angle."
Retail Example
"I am patient, depending on the situation and with those who need it. For instance, I am patient with an elderly customer who is moving slowly at the till; where I won't allow someone rude just to walk over me. An instance of this will be if a customer is disrespectful to me, or opening packaging on the floor. I am always professional; however, I am unafraid to approach a situation head-on. "
Sales Example
"I certainly can be patient, but I would say it's more of a learned skill than something innate. I have worked to become more patient and not demonstrate my frustration or impatience with others. I know when others push me it's counterproductive, so I remind myself of that when dealing with others. I know when I'm running out of patience and am proactive asking for some time to regroup as appropriate."
Teacher Example
"I am quite patient both as a teacher and a mom. I'm used to getting my buttons pushed. I take it in stride and always try to get the student to explain what's going on and why they're having trouble, get them "using their words" and de-escalate the situation. If I'm frustrated, I make sure not to show it and just take a deep breath."
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Question 5 of 25
How has your current job changed over the years?
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How to Answer
The interviewer wants to know more about your career progression. Additional responsibilities, promotions, and changes in your job title all indicate that you were competent and successful in your role. This question gives you an opportunity to go more in-depth about how your job has evolved. If nothing has changed much over the past couple of years in your position, focus on what you have learned. Are you better at managing teams now that you have gone from supervising one to five people? Are you exceptionally good at problem-solving now that you've learned to troubleshoot IT related problems? Talk about how the changes in your job have taught you new skills and helped you develop the ones you already have.

Answer Example
"When I initially started my job four years ago I was a junior level associate. Today, I am responsible for leading a team of 8 junior associates. My role does not look the same at all, and I am thankful for the growth opportunity that my current company has offered me. In addition to the change in leadership responsibilities, I have also enjoyed two major promotions. I attribute this to hard work and dedication."
Admin Example
"Change is a constant in my current role as I work with a rapidly growing organization. In the beginning, I was the one doing the bulk of the administrative work where over the years, I began leading a team to accomplish those same goals. You could say I grew professionally as much as the business did!"
Manager Example
"I have grown exponentially in my position. I went from a one-person show to a department of three, with me in charge. We have increased our product line offerings, so my team has had to increase its workload repeatedly."
Marketing Example
"In my current role, I was initially hired to write blog posts, take photos, and execute social media copy that had already been planned out for me. A few months in, I was tasked with planning the posts as well. Now, I am in charge of planning out the marketing calendar for the entire year, including all posts, topics, and promotions."
Retail Example
"Initially, I was hired as a part-time sales associate. I graduated college and received a promotion to full-time key holder, then assistant manager. My role now includes correspondence with our corporate head office, interviewing candidates, and training new hires. I love to learn new process and look forward to the challenges this role will offer."
Sales Example
"Since graduating, I have held various positions, always leaving one for another with greater responsibility, whether within the same organization or another. I have learned a lot in each position, and without any of the previous ones, I would not have earned the promotions I have enjoyed to date. I began as the lowest on the totem pole and have since lead teams from one to five direct reports; I began in inside sales and had since piloted an outside sales program that previously did not exist. I am grateful for all of the lessons I have learned in each position that have equipped me for the next move I'm looking to make, and I look forward to using this knowledge to make an impact at ABC if given the opportunity."
Teacher Example
"In the past near-decade of teaching, I've seen the shift towards more standardized testing and quieter, less exciting methods of teaching. I have seen my job almost be eliminated a few times for budgetary concerns, despite the rhetoric that the board values the department- something the community made clear that they do value. All the while, I've done everything I can to evolve with the times but keep in mind the needs of my students."
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Question 6 of 25
Tell me about an achievement you are proud of. What skills did you use to achieve this goal?
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Question 7 of 25
How do you deal with stressful situations in the workplace?
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Question 8 of 25
What decisions did you routinely make in your last position?
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Question 9 of 25
In your opinion, why is it important to develop relationships with coworkers?
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Question 10 of 25
How do you deal with conflict on your team?
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Question 11 of 25
Tell me about a time when you took a creative approach to solving a problem.
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Question 12 of 25
When have you taken an unusual risk in the workplace? What was the outcome?
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Question 13 of 25
How do you handle a larger than average workload?
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Question 14 of 25
Do you have confidence in your communication skills? What is your communication style?
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Question 15 of 25
Have you requested extra responsibilities in any of your previous roles?
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Question 16 of 25
Tell me the ways in which you brought value to your most recent position.
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Question 17 of 25
How did you maintain a good relationship with your most recent boss?
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Question 18 of 25
Are you capable of handling disputes in a professional manner? How do you respond to customer complaints?
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Question 19 of 25
Give an example of when you used your listening skills to complete a task properly, or solve a problem.
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Question 20 of 25
How do you explain complicated concepts to those who may not understand?
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Question 21 of 25
How did you go about suggesting changes in your most recent company?
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Question 22 of 25
What feedback did you receive from your most recent manager?
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Question 23 of 25
What skills did you learn in your most recent position that will help you in this new role?
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Question 24 of 25
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
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Question 25 of 25
With the ongoing changes in this industry, how do you keep your knowledge current?
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