Competency Interviews – Comparing Apples & Oranges

So how does an Interviewer compare apples and oranges? Let’s say I’m looking for a piece of fruit to go in a fruit salad, and I want that fruit to be round, sweet, easy to peel, and to complement the flavour of the other fruits.

So first I interview an Orange…

Interviewer: “How would you describe yourself?”

Orange: “I’m fairly round, very sweet, easy to peel, I work well under pressure and I’m best enjoyed on my own”…

Interviewer: “Tell me more about being easy to peel ”

Orange: “Yeah my role involves being in a still life painting – I did find it a bit tough to get my peel off initially – I kept some bits on … I didn’t mind though as long as it was tastefully done..” ’

Interviewer: “Hmm… yes thanks Orange… Next! – the Apple… what are your strengths?”

Apple: “I think my core strength is in being easy to peel – in my last job I had to get my peel off, as quickly and neatly as possible, using a specialist peeler, resulting in my peel all remaining in one complete piece, which the clients were delighted with”.

Get the picture? It’s a metaphor guys – I wouldn’t really interview fruit – that would be silly; if I know them well enough I would just give them the job.

Whether we like it or not, many interviewers are using competency based approach to compare apples and oranges, sorry, I mean candidates! Here are some key things to remember about how competency based interviews work…

  • It’s the interviewers job to find the best person for the role, with the least amount of effort – they want YOU to be the right person – if you can demonstrate that you have the necessary experience then you make the choice easy for them.
  • Each job you apply for will have a set of associated competencies (combination of knowledge, skill & behaviour) which should be pretty obvious from the job description – if you’re called for interview it will be because you have ticked off most or all of their required competencies or key words from the job ad on your CV.
  • Make a list of the competencies and prepare examples in advance of situations where you have demonstrated those competencies
  • Tell your stor(ies) using the TAR structure – Task required, Action I took and Result
  • If you find it difficult to remember a list of examples, use a mind map to help you remember times when you were doing what you do best.
  • Use “I” where relevant instead of “we” e.g. I was a member of a team who… I was tasked with xyz within the team… I delivered … I completed…
  • PRACTICE YOUR EXAMPLES OUT LOUD! We are mostly guilty of being too modest about ourselves! 

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