Competency Interview Questions

25 Questions and Answers by

Rachelle Enns is an interview coach and job search expert. She works with candidates to perform their best in employment, medical, and post-secondary admission interviews.

Competency was updated on May 4th, 2019. Learn more here.

Question 1 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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Competency Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

    Give an example of when you used your listening skills to complete a task properly, or solve a problem.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer wants to see that you have strong listening skills. They want to know that you aren't the type to interrupt before hearing your co-workers out. You know that asking for clarification can save you a lot of grief down the road! Show that you are one to check for full understanding when you are navigating new territory. Highlight to the interviewer that you are the type to listen and troubleshoot problems in a collaborative style attentively.

      Someone with excellent listening skills will:

      - Give the speaker their full attention
      - Maintain proper eye contact
      - Show invested interest by nodding or agreeing
      - Avoid interrupting
      - Ask for clarification if needed
      - Make statements such as "If I understand you correctly..." or "Do you mean that you want..."

      Give an example that demonstrates how you avoided miscommunication by using your stellar listening skills!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "If I understand you correctly..."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "I often use very sharp listening skills when the executive needs something. She rattles off her needs so fast that I can barely keep up sometimes! I have now taken to recording our conversations on my iPhone so that I can revert to her needs, ensuring I don't skip a beat. Her previous assistant did not do this, and she appreciates my ingenuity and willingness to implement new methods of working."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "Listening skills can serve you well in any role. In a heated meeting where two groups were debating about a specific issue they were having, I sat back to listen carefully to identify the root problem. Both teams were passionate about the work so could not hear over their defense mechanisms. As their leader, I was able to hear through this and recommend solutions for them to be successful working together."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "I was in a meeting when our owner and the operations manager and I were discussing how branding would look for the following calendar year. It was clear that the other two were not understanding one another, and I was the junior marketing person in the room. Never the less, to accomplish our task, I had to work as the mediator without making them feel like I was biased. I listened very carefully and reworded what each of them said in order to get us all on the same page. By using careful listening and tact, we left the meeting all on the same page, which gave us a great way to start off the year."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "Active listening is a key quality to have. I recently hosted a district retail meeting with a team that seems unhappy and discontent. I listened as they explained their issues. While some things I could not change, some of their concerns were easily rectified just by understanding the issue."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "Listening is crucial to closing a sales deal. I make the prospect feel as though they're my most important call of the day, listening to what they're saying, and not saying, and clarifying their statements. Not only is it helpful to help uncover any potential objections on the spot, but also it helps to confirm their understanding and reinforce a resolution."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "Even when I disagree initially with a colleague or even a student, I make sure not to show it. Rather, I wait to hear them out. If needed, I ask pointed questions to see if what I'm hearing is what they meant to communicate. Once it's clear that we understand one another, we can go from there; even if there is a disagreement, at least there is an understanding. This example applies to building curriculum, scheduling classes, or even answering homework questions. Clarifying questions and active listening will always go a long way."

      2 Community Answers

      Anonymous Answer

      "I think listening skills are very important when working with representatives of Member States coming from all over the world. There can be language issues, accent differences. The strategies that I use in these cases is to adopt a positive body language; e.g., smile to welcome them, keep eye contact, focus on the person, and not on the computer. I also sum up what has been asked to make sure that I understood correctly. This facilitates things a great deal for delegates who feel like they can come to the counter for any issues they might have during the week."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Fantastic! You show a great deal of self-awareness (body language) while displaying that you care about clarity in communication.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "• In my final year, I Co-led weekly mentoring sessions to fifteen first-year economic students were aimed at easing them into the various aspects of university life. • They would sometimes wait after the session and want to discuss a university challenge. Actively listening without interruption and maintaining eye contact were important to understand their situation. This allowed me to focus on how exactly they needed help."

      Cindy's Answer

      Great. These are vital components and important to demonstrate to the interviewer.

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