Measuring competences during interviews

In the competences based interview the interviewer tries, by asking a number of focused questions, to form an opinion on the skills of a candidate on certain behavior criteria.

Why Measuring competences during interviews?

In the competences based interview the interviewer tries, by asking a number of focused questions, to form an opinion on the skills of a candidate on certain behavior criteria. The interview is based on gathering evidence/proof from the past of the candidate on behavior skills on a certain criterion.

Why competence based interviewing is valuable?

Not everyone is suited to carry out a top-level role in your company. After all, you’re looking for candidates with specific skills and valuable experience in the field; in other words, talent who can take your company to a higher level.

By recruiting someone with specific skills for the job, you will need to spend less time on additional courses and training. On the contrary – in the best scenario, your new recruit will also be able to teach your existing employees a thing or two.

Where to start: profiling.

Competence based interviewing forces you to go beyond resumes. It requires you to dive into the experiences someone obtained (good and bad), the lessons someone learned, the capabilities someone developed. In other to assess those elements, you have to conclude on the personal effectiveness, interpersonal skills, way of thinking and management style you want candidates to bring to your organization first.

Personal effectiveness -> result oriented, decisive, stress resistant, …

Interpersonal skills -> communication, collaboration, negation skills, …

Way of thinking -> analytical, creative, conceptual, problem solving, …

Management style -> people management, leadership, planning and organizational skills, …

Interview techniques

As you have defined the criteria/competences to look for at candidates, you can start questioning directly towards the criteria by raising the area of competence with an open question. Then ask for specific examples and situations that have occurred in the past and in which the candidate showed (or did not show) the kind of behavior you want to assess.


Let’s say you are interviewing a candidate for a sales manager proposition within your company. Given the commercial challenges you and your company are facing, you need a professional that focuses on the delivery of targets, quality and deadlines. Who can be counted on to exceed goals successfully; is constantly and consistently one of the top performers; steadfastly pushes self and others for result.

Competence = Result-oriented.
Possible areas to explore

  • Life goals, business goals ( short, long term)
  • Pushing an unpopular idea/program
  • Winning big by losing small
  • Finishing someone others have given up

STAR questions:

  • Tell me about a situation/a time where others failed and you attained your objectives?
  • Do you consider yourself as being result-oriented? If answer is “Yes”: Give me two concrete examples where you have proven to be result-oriented.
  • List your main objectives of the last year. Which did you reach? Which not? At what time did you know it would be difficult to attain certain objectives? How did you react at that moment? How did you fought to obtain the final result?

Remark: When asking for more than one example, it is not necessary to go into detail on all of them. Let your candidate list the examples, then choose one you want to ‘elaborate’.  So do never forget measuring competences during interviews!

Have you experienced hiring mistakes due to a mis-evaluation of the required competences? Do you perceive the process of competence based interviewing as challenging? Or are you curious to learn more about our experiences using this technique?

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