Too much focus on competencies?


Anyone else think some interviews are too focused on competencies?

One recent interview asked me nothing about accounting, auditing or the company just competency questions about situations which most graduates with some work experience are unlikely to have and those without work experience won’t be able to answer at all (obviously not all competency questions are like this but the ones I got were)

It would be nice if they tried to get to know you as a person a bit more and give you a chance to show that you have done research on the company/career/business issues


I don’t recall having an interview which was all competency-based questions, but I have had a lot have been 75-90% competency questions.
I agree with it being very hard to answer for people with little or no work experience (I had that issue a few years ago when applying for industrial placement roles). But I have a feeling that is probably intentional, a good way to discriminate against those with limited work experience, as I’m sure a good % of them would much prefer someone who they are pretty sure can start working with little or no coaching through the delights (or not) of the working day.

The HR people would say that as they have so many different interviewers they need some way of ensuring complete objectivity (partly for legal reasons), the only way they know how is to use competency-based questions.

I always struggled with questions like “tell me what you know about this co.” Of course I’ve done research and lots of reading in preparation, but is tricky balance between spewing out loads of different facts or just saying “I’ve read a lot of things about X plc this last couple of weeks and a couple of things that stood out for me were Y product is really cool etc.”

and like you I sometimes sat longing for a question where I could show them how much I knew.


the type of questions you get to answer might indicate that the company has some sort of problem among its staff, in terms of people skills and team work. not everyone who comes clean through the interview can demonstrate a well manned behavior under pressure at work. thus the org’s are making sure they get the right personality.

you are actually right, on that. there should be mixture of questions not just competency based ones.


quite right…

you could say that the accountancy firms do this with their first round (competency-based) interview and then the partner interview deals with the more human side.


actually the interview that persuaded me to make this topic was a 2nd round interview!!


Hi there,

When I was applying for industrial placements at every interview that I managed to secure I was only asked competency based questions. Most of them, according to my opinion, were designed for people with at least 3 years work experience. But I was quite lucky because I had a job while being at uni even it was soft of unrelated. I think that companies also should ask students more about their studies or projects and how they accomplished their projects while being at university. But employers are not aware of that, they think that some young undergraduate who just finished his/her first year of uni and is applying for placement has 10 year of professional experience. At least this seemed to me when they asked me questions during my interviews. lol