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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.
Professional Answers Preview
"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!"
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.
Specific Career Examples
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."
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."
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."
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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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"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."
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.
Specific Career Examples
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."
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."
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."
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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?
Professional Answers Preview
"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."
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.
Specific Career Examples
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."
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."
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."
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."
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Question 5 of 25
How has your current job changed over the years?
Professional Answers Preview
"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."
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.
Specific Career Examples
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."
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."
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."
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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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User-Submitted Interview Answers

Question 1 of 25
How do you deal in uncomfortable situations?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
Working in the barracks would often put me in the situation where female occupants would answer their doors in various stages of undress. I always had a command escort with me and would always inform my supervisor when these incidents would occur.
Question 2 of 25
Give me an example of a challenge you overcame in your last position.
User-Submitted Answers
1.
Rude customers, coworkers not pulling their weight.
2.
Every day is a challenge in Penneys, it is one of the busiest retails shops in Ireland at the moment. Unfortunately, its hard to please every single customer, it's difficult to give them all the attention they need, but I always manage to give them my full attention if they require my help.
3.
We were often challenged of ensuring no other utilities were affected while digging in to the ground to locate and then repair a water break. We were also challenged on some tasks that needed to be scheduled around the operating hours of the various commands around the base.
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?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
How do you handle stress?
2.
I was asked to help lay concrete. I had not poured concrete before but the journeyman I was with was a great instructor. I would not say I am proficient but I have poured concrete a few more times since the first time.
Question 4 of 25
Do you consider yourself a patient person? How do you increase your patience level in challenging situations?
Question 5 of 25
How has your current job changed over the years?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
The biggest change is personnel. There has been small changes in policy and procedure but we have had employees retire and then replaced by new recruits.
Question 6 of 25
Tell me about an achievement you are proud of. What skills did you use to achieve this goal?
Question 7 of 25
How do you deal with stressful situations in the workplace?
Question 8 of 25
What decisions did you routinely make in your last position?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
Concerning our fraud cases, I had to decide if the information that the person sent in was sufficient enough and/or valid. Concerning our check customers, if they were eligible for additional services.
2.
I was allowed to work independently, which meant I was trusted to make safe, competent, reliable, honest, proficient, and quality decisions concerning the tasks I was assigned on a daily basis, regardless of how large or small the assigned task was.
Question 9 of 25
In your opinion, why is it important to develop relationships with coworkers?
Question 10 of 25
How do you deal with conflict on your team?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
If it is a client-I NEVER respond with anything but politeness. If internal, I stay cool, think through my response and then find the right moment to share my thoughts on the conflict.
2.
I always strive to resolve conflict as soon a situation arises. If I can not resolve myself I am not afraid to ask for assistance from my most knowledgable counterparts.
3.
Conflicts are like gas; everyone has some from time to time but no one really wants to discuss it. It's often best to let it fade away a bit at a time.
4.
In a matrixed environment without strong processes to encourage collaboration, it can be challenging to get iniatitives prioritized for support. Launching the PALS project we were challenged by the direct banking team constantly. We got support in 3 ways 1.) Understood their concerns, processes, and complied. 2.) Senior support was acknowledged, 3.) momentum.
5.
I deal with conflicts as a solution. I dont see them as conflicts but as a misinformed. So I work on informing not conflicting.
6.
Many times conflict can be mostly resolved by just listening to the other party share their side of the story. Once they've been able to vent they're a little more ready to listen to reason. But dealing with conflict can never be just reactive; you should be clued in enough to your people so that some conflicts can be cut off at the pass.
7.
I give conflicts time to settle. Most conflicts were working with two individuals that did not get along.
8.
Head on, if it's extremely heated, I step away, think, I may ask a close confidant if they see anything i'm missing and I come back and i'm confused..
9.
Submit Daily reports.
10.
First, it is important to have correct fact, reason about conflits and parties invovled. This data will help us to take correct action to deal with conflict. I have faced union unrest in Ispat Profiles which forced company to shut down operations.
11.
There is regular conflict in my field but quite often it is passive and so maybe much harder to deal with as people are less likely to be openly dismissive of the need for change. I therefore aim to be 'on side' in order to create a safe environment for the difficult questions or true feelings to be expressed in order to give a counter view nicely and gain trust and acceptance for my point of view.
12.
Organisation of the registers, sorting out the roster, checking for sick calls, making sure those places are filled by other staff memebers so no tills are seen to be empty. Communicating with management to ensure that everyone is clear on who is doing what and where.
13.
Leverage conflict - TWC;
14.
Learned how to leverage conflict as a skills. Used conflict constructively...
15.
Depending on situation I listen and grasp what the issues are. I will then try and mediate through different solutions to see if we can all agree. I am in HR so conflict is all around me. Dealing with partners who do not agree and think that they are more important. Sometimes in the boardroom I have a way of wanting to do things and the seniors do not agree I need to find a rational way of them seeing my point of view without it becoming a battle of wills. Often I will accept what they say and come back later on with my view but from a different angle mostly works.
Question 11 of 25
Tell me about a time when you took a creative approach to solving a problem.
Question 12 of 25
When have you taken an unusual risk in the workplace? What was the outcome?
Question 13 of 25
How do you handle a larger than average workload?
Question 14 of 25
Do you have confidence in your communication skills? What is your communication style?
Question 15 of 25
Have you requested extra responsibilities in any of your previous roles?
Question 16 of 25
Tell me the ways in which you brought value to your most recent position.
User-Submitted Answers
1.
I am a utilities plumber, which included the maintenance of utility assets, repair to damaged or malfunctioning assets, the reading of utility meters as well as other tasks needing completion in a timely manner.
Question 17 of 25
How did you maintain a good relationship with your most recent boss?
Question 18 of 25
Are you capable of handling disputes in a professional manner? How do you respond to customer complaints?
Question 19 of 25
Give an example of when you used your listening skills to complete a task properly, or solve a problem.
Question 20 of 25
How do you explain complicated concepts to those who may not understand?
Question 21 of 25
How did you go about suggesting changes in your most recent company?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
Three monthly review.
2.
Communication with staff.
Question 22 of 25
What feedback did you receive from your most recent manager?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
I met ad exceeded my metrics the entire time I was employed.I was told that I am kind and respectful, good listener, and the desire to solve problems.
2.
Not much, positive or negative. It would have been nice to have a more in depth form of communication with my supervisor pertaining to my performance.
Question 23 of 25
What skills did you learn in your most recent position that will help you in this new role?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
To deal with employees requests for travel, accommodation, hire cars and goods.
2.
Speak with and help customers understand why their check transactions did not go through, deal with fraud cases and help clear them.
3.
To help customers know and understand why their personal or business checks declined. Offer additional services that could potentially help the in the future.
4.
I was one of three journeymen utilities plumbers assigned to the UEM shop.
Question 24 of 25
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
User-Submitted Answers
1.
Prioritising, dealing with e-mails, phone call and personnel requests from employees, working as a team, working well as an individual, get.
2.
How to learn and use changing computer softwarehow to talk to customershow to handle escalated situationshow to work as a teamhow to meet goals and set new ones.
3.
1: Knowledge of the various assets needing maintenance or repair 2: Understanding of how the assets operate 3: Knowledge of where to locate needed material that is not on hand 4: Became a certified backflow tester 5: Obtained training in various mechanical equipment such as forklift and the bobcat.
Question 25 of 25
With the ongoing changes in this industry, how do you keep your knowledge current?

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