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Competency-based interviews – government interviewing techniques

Competencies-based (also called ‘behavioural event’) interviews are based on the idea that past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. Generalised or hypothetical answers are not suitable! Competency-based interviews are often used in government interviews, so we recommend that your answers take the STAR format.

S-Situation: Set the scene. You need to describe the wider context for your answer.

T-Task: Discuss the tasks, deliverables, expectations and/or your responsibilities in the situation you’re describing.

A-Activities: It is important to tell the interviewers both what you did and how you did it. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate the approaches you took and the behaviours you used, which are what make you a unique candidate. It allows you to demonstrate in a powerful manner that you personally were responsible and took ownership for activities and outcomes.

R-Results: Finally, detail the outcomes of your actions: what went well, what went wrong and what you would do differently next time.

Before you go to your interview, use the STAR method to map out two potential examples which relate to each of the competencies in the job description. Remember that one example may be used for a number of competencies. The more recent the examples you use, the better.