How to Answer Competency-based Questions During your IT Interview

To determine your strong and weak points, the interview questions should appropriately probe your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities. In our previous post, we explored the typical opening questions that are asked by the interviewer. In this blog, the itContracting senior IT recruiters have compiled some competency-based interview questions, outlining interviewing best-practices that will help you to optimise your answers. Simply put, we’re giving you the best chance at your dream IT job!

What are Competency-based Interview Questions?

Competency-based interviews is a specific style of questioning which shows your interviewer how you would demonstrate certain behaviours and skills in the workplace. You will be asked to give an example of a situation or task that led you to take a certain course of action. Probing questions are used to determine the course of action you took, what changes were facilitated by those actions and the effects of those actions on others.

By using experience, a potential employer can predict future behaviour. To prepare yourself for competency-based questions, we encourage you to use the STAR method:

Situation: Describe the situation or problem you have encountered.

Task: Explain the task that the situation required and your ideas for resolving the problem.

Action: Explore the action you took and obstacles that you had to overcome.

Result: Reveal outcomes achieved.

Here are examples of competency-based interview questions that you may be asked. We’ve organised them under each area that you will be judged upon during the interview.

How to answer competency based interview questions

The interviewer will be looking for you to demonstrate the following:

  • Personally well-organised and keeps focused on priorities in own and others’ work.
  • Develops and monitors clear and realistic action plans to accomplish given objectives using given resources.

Sample Questions:

1. Describe a time when you had to organise the implementation of a plan:

  • What were the key stages you worked through?
  • How did you ensure the plan was followed?
  • How did this work in practice?

2. Tell me about a time when you were unable to deliver what you promised to deliver:

  • Why did this happen?
  • To what extent were you responsible?
  • What did you do to try and overcome the problem?

3. Tell me about a situation when several projects needed your attention:

  • What were the projects?
  • How did you manage your limited resources?
  • To what extent did the different projects succeed?

4. Give me an example of when you had to work towards an important deadline:

  • What measures did you take to ensure you met the deadline?
  • What did you find most challenging in respect to planning and organising?
  • Why were these elements challenging?

Judgement And Decision-Making

The interviewer will be looking for you to demonstrate the following:

  • Uses relevant information to make sound and balanced judgements.
  • Evaluates the risks of alternative options and makes confident decisions in the face of uncertainty or incomplete knowledge.

Sample Questions:

1. Tell me about a time you took responsibility for making a key decision:

  • What was the decision you made?
  • How did you justify your decision?

2. Sometimes we must make decisions that are challenged by others. Describe a situation when you made a decision that was challenged:

  • What was your decision?
  • How did the people who were affected react?
  • How did you respond to people who challenged your decision?

3. Describe a time when you referred an urgent decision upwards:

  • What was the background?
  • Why did you need help?

4. Tell me about a decision you made that involved an element of risk:

  • Why did you need to make the decision?
  • What were the consequences?

Drive And Commitment

The interviewer will be looking for you to demonstrate the following:

  • Has the determination, effort and enthusiasm to deliver results.
  • Is energetic, takes the initiative, originates action and keeps things moving.

Sample Questions:

1. Give me an example of when you set yourself a challenging target:

  • Why did you set yourself the target?
  • What made it so challenging?
  • What was the outcome?

2. Give me an example of when you took the initiative and made something happen:

  • How did you progress the idea?
  • How did you gain support for the initiative?
  • What was the impact of your initiative?

3. Tell me about a time when a project you were working on did not go as planned:

  • What didn’t go well?
  • How did you feel?
  • How did you react?

4. Give me an example of when you did more than was asked of you:

  • What was the situation?
  • What did you do?
  • What was the result?


How to ace your job interview

Getting ready for a job interview is one thing, but what about if the interview is online? Chris Byrne is one of our Senior IT Recruitment Consultants. In this feature, he goes through some of his top tips for making sure your online job interview goes perfectly.  Read on.


itContracting provides our associates with opportunity for further training with on-going evaluation road maps, which can adapt skill sets more closely to your evolving environment. If you want to learn more about itContracting, one of the country’s leading IT recruitment agencies, contact us today.


Career Advice, Recruitment