One story to tell all the stories
Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

A competency-based interview revolves around telling one story that tells all the stories. To know that Lionel Messi can produce magic, you don’t need to see his every goal – just one of his best, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Neither is it necessary to listen to Bocelli’s entire back catalogue to know that he can hold a note.

Candidates often struggle with the competency-based approach. It seems sparse, improbable, perhaps even weird. They find it easier to offer a broad overview of their skills, rather than focusing on one good story.

Competency-based interviews are very specific affairs.

A competency-based interview panel should draw you away from the broad approach and into specifics. More and more, panels have been well trained and are on the look-out for hard and fast examples.

It can be difficult for a candidate to step back from their day-to-day work and present their experience in the way I am describing: “sure I do what I do, that’s just the way it is, nothing special” typifies the manner in which some people summarise their careers, and you don’t need me to point out that this amounts to a gross under-selling of a candidate’s ability.

You’ve got to tell the stories. Shine the light.

The interview is set up to allow you to sell yourself. If you are shy or reticent in that regard, you need to prepare really well beforehand to give a good account of yourself.

Be ready to outline examples where you showed excellence, commitment, ingenuity or a variety of other traits. Don’t worry, the panel won’t flinch: that’s what they want to hear, and they will be disappointed if you don’t give them good evidence.

It’s not being recorded. It will stay in that room. Interviews are tricky – in fact, as I’ve argued here before, I believe they command far too great a place in the recruitment process – but they are what they are and there is no alternative to telling them what you have done.

I see parallels with the Rose of Tralee. One of the Roses is bookies favourite all week long – wearing all the right smiles in the Newbridge Crystal shop, suitably empathetic on the charity visit and good fun at the races. The word is out: she’s the one.

But if she doesn’t back it up with a good performance on the stage, she’s bunched. So much comes down to those few minutes.

It’s the same in a job interview. You can shine all you want on your CV, but if you don’t produce the goods in the camera, lights, action of the interview, your chances will diminish dramatically.

So get your stories ready. Know which one you are going to deploy when asked to prove ‘team work’. Don’t learn it off beforehand, but do have it thought – and talked – through so that it will come to you easier under pressure.

Run your stories through the START filter – Situation, Task, Action, Result and Them (this series of articles on the START method will help you). That’s a basic building block of the competency-based interview and it will keep you on track, particularly by getting you to describe the result of the actions you took.

You don’t need to see every ceiling Michelangelo ever painted…and I guess you don’t need to read 15 of my analogies to know that I might sometimes be guilty of laboring the point.

The video below highlights some tips for competency-based interviews:

Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.

Make a booking HERE for CV Preparation, Application Form Writing, Interview Training and Mock Interviews.


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