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Competency Interview Questions

25 Competency Interview Questions
Question 1 of 25
Give me an example of a challenge you overcame in your last position.
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 2 of 25
How do you deal in uncomfortable situations?
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How to Answer
Often, our work environment holds the possibility for awkward or tense situations. It can be challenging to know how to respond when you have a coworker who is moody, or when your coworker lacks social skills and continuously asks inappropriate questions. The interviewer wants to know that you can keep your cool in situations like these.

Answer Example
"I have had my share of awkward situations and having raised two kids, I am no stranger to them! In the workplace, if an uncomfortable situation arises I tend to face the issue head-on, but tactfully. Sweeping things under the rug rarely helps. I have no problem being open with my team or colleagues if I am not feeling comfortable in a particular situation."
Admin Example
"I have learned over the years that if something makes me uncomfortable, I better dive right into it. Change and growth happen outside of your comfort zone. I embrace this!"
Manager Example
"Uncomfortable situations do not weigh on me. I have learned how to face my problems and persevere, and I never take my feelings home with me. I encourage this mentality with my team as well."
Marketing Example
"I try to avoid conflict, but I have a high tolerance for discomfort. I've learned to try to let the people in question sort it out, but have no problem rolling up my sleeves and diving in to help mediate the problem."
Retail Example
"When working with the public so much, awkward situations are going to arise. I have had my fair share and knew enough to either walk away or fake it till I made it! A smile and nod can do wonders!"
Sales Example
"As ridiculous as this sounds, I am comfortable in awkward situations because I've had decades of awkward family dinner parties when one side didn't get along well with the other! I've learned to be the go-between who smoothes things out while finding common ground where all parties can agree. While the foundations are odd, this has proven a beneficial skill in the workplace."
Teacher Example
"Uncomfortable situations don't phase me. It takes a lot to make me uncomfortable, and I just roll with whatever awkward thing is happening and try to either make it normalized, especially in the case of a student, change the conversation, or address the root of the awkwardness. It's all part of the gig."
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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
Tell me about an achievement you are proud of. What skills did you use to achieve this goal?
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Question 6 of 25
In your opinion, why is it important to develop relationships with coworkers?
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Question 7 of 25
How has your current job changed over the years?
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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
How do you deal with stressful situations in the workplace?
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Question 10 of 25
How do you deal with conflict on your team?
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Author of Competency Answers and Questions

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is an executive head-hunter and job search expert. Utilized by top executives from Fortune 100 & 500 companies like Fitbit, Microsoft, General Electric, Nestle, and more, she helps professionals position themselves in a competitive marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume, a company that focuses on helping job seekers get their edge back. Renovate My Resume creates stand-out resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and professional summaries for new grads, all the way to corporate executives. Rachelle spends much of her time training career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers. She also holds interview workshops for students and interns, globally. For great tips and tricks, follow Rachelle on Instagram @_rachelle_e or @renovatemyresume.
First written on: 08/10/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018
Question 11 of 25
Have you requested extra responsibilities in any of your previous roles?
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Question 12 of 25
How do you handle a larger than average workload?
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Question 13 of 25
When have you taken an unusual risk in the workplace? What was the outcome?
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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
Tell me about a time when you took a creative approach to solving a problem.
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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
With the ongoing changes in this industry, how do you keep your knowledge current?
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Question 18 of 25
How did you maintain a good relationship with your most recent boss?
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Question 19 of 25
Are you capable of handling disputes in a professional manner? How do you respond to customer complaints?
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Question 20 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 21 of 25
How do you explain complicated concepts to those who may not understand?
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Question 22 of 25
How did you go about suggesting changes in your most recent company?
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Question 23 of 25
What feedback did you receive from your most recent manager?
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Question 24 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 25 of 25
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
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