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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

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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Competency Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

    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?

      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.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "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."

      3 Community Answers

      Anonymous Answer

      "I was not trained to do most tasks in my current position. However, I'm resourceful and a self-starter. For example, I was asked to step in as an Accountant I Specialist because we were short-staffed. I enlisted the help of co-workers by asking questions. Asking questions helped me learn, and I was able to finish the tasks."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your answer is excellent! You show the ability to learn new tasks and a willingness to jump in, even when it may be uncomfortable for you.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I started to work in this organization literally a week before their huge annual meeting took place. Most of the colleagues had been already transferred to the venue of the conference (which is one of the most famous conferences in the world), and there wasn't anybody around to onboard me or to give me training, so I had to function, and be as helpful as possible, with the little advice received by the IT technician who set up my computer, and a few written guides provided to me by the HR staff). I used all my patience to figure out the internal tools, and I tried to research what I didn't know and leverage my network of people I knew that were already working in the organization to ask for direction and best practices. I honestly do not think that I was already at 100% during the first week, but what's matters are that I was helpful to my supervisor (who was at the conference and able to deliver what was needed)."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Wow, this sounds like a massive challenge and a lot of potentially uncomfortable situations for you. BUT, you powered through and delivered what you needed to do. Fantastic example!

      "I started to work for Company ABC one week before their huge annual meeting took place. Most of my new colleagues were already at the conference venue, which is one of the most prestigious conferences in the world. Nobody was around to onboard me or to give me training, so I had to function and be as helpful as possible, with the little advice received by the IT technician who set up my computer, and a few written guides provided to me by the HR staff. I used all my patience to figure out the internal tools, and I tried to research what I didn't know. I leveraged my network of people I knew that were already working in the organization to ask for direction and best practices. I honestly do not think that I was at 100% function during the first week, but what mattered was that I was helpful to my supervisor, and delivered they needed at the conference."

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