Tips To Conduct Effective Competency Based Interviews

Just completed one and a half day session on “CBI“. Don’t worry. It’s nothing to do with the “Central Bureau of Investigation“. The session was on “Competency Based Interviewing” by none other than Rajagopalan Sreekumar, corporate trainer turned a good friend now. I remember my first interaction with him while he was conducting a session on ” Interpersonal Relationship Building” and since then it’s always been a great learning experience with Sree as he does not follow the normal route of training. While conducting his sessions, he acts like a professional diver who will help you explore the deepest part of the ocean and then come back satisfied realising that you had a successful voyage. He would share lots of quotes and life examples to build on the concepts and after the end of his session, you will have a list of good books to refer in future. It’s just amazing to see how he can remember so many books with the names of the authors as well. Hats off to your brilliant memory.


Coming back to the learning session on “Competency Based Interviewing“, compiling a one and a half day session is next to impossible in a 500 words blog post. However, I will still try to touch upon some key aspects that hold importance while you conduct a competency based interview with people.


What are the 5 Key Characteristics of a Good Interviewer?

  1. He is an ambassador of the organization
  2. Self disciplined and self-controlled
  3. Has to be a very good listener
  4. Has a high degree of patience and persistence
  5. Planned, well prepared and organized for the interview

How to Read a Resume?

  1. Look for measurable achievements
  2. Does the résumé mirror the ideal candidate?
  3. Mediocre candidates do not always have a mediocre resume
  4. Look for evidence that shows a desire to work
  5. Do NOT assume.

What are the three levels of Competencies?

  1. Threshold
  2. Functional
  3. Distinguished

What is the Interview Process?

  1. Step 1 – Manage Process and Plan Time
  2. Step 2 – Define Performance Expectations
  3. Step 3 – Develop and Ask questions
  4. Step 4- Decide on Answers
  5. Step 5 – Making the Hiring Decision

Brief on the Interview Process

Step 1 – Manage Process and Plan Time

  • Set clear goals of the interview
  • Train interviewers to conduct correct assessment
  • Develop unified PR (Public Relations) and review your RJP (Realistic Job Previews)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your interview process
  • Assess the time spent on various stages of the interview

Step 2 – Define Performance Expectations

  • Define Goals
  • Job barriers
  • Competency Requirements
  • Address the challenges in defining the Competency Requirements

Step 3 – Develop and Ask questions

  • Rapport building Stage – 2% (Time spent)
  • Introductory Stage – 3% (Time spent)
  • Core – Competency based, Probing, Hypothetical – 85% (Time spent)
  • Confirmation Stage – 5% (Time spent)
  • Closing – 5% (Time spent)

Step 4- Decide on Answers

  • Why develop Answers before asking Questions
  • Strategies for developing Answers to interviewing Questions
  • Prepare a sample question Vs Answer key

Step 5 – Making the Hiring Decision

  • Identify problems that lead to Poor Decision Making
  • Prepare strategies for making a Better Hiring Decision

4 Steps for a Structured Decision Making Process

  1. Review Performance Expectations
  2. Detail Action Behaviours
  3. Compare against Performance Expectation
  4. Make Behavioral Prediction
I know I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. Each bullet point above requires clarity and a little more detailing. So if you have any specific question, I will try my best to address them in the comments section or you may directly get in touch with Sree on his Facebook Profile here. By the way a personal recommendation from my end, try to attend a session conducted by Rajagopalan Sreekumar. You will feel the difference :)
  • Resh says:


    its always been a new learning whenever i read your article. i have one querry, presently i’m working as an HR Recruiter in a small consultancy and simultaneously i’m persuing my MBA PGDHRM. and i’m not satisfied with my current job because there is nothing to learn. I joined this consultancy just because i thought i might learn something which will help me to grow in my career but i’m not able to learn anything. presently i’m just doing calling and coordination.
    but this is not my ultimate goal of my life i want to make serious career in HR(PAYROLL, PF, OPERATIONS etc.) its been 6months i’m working is this consultancy. so is this a right time to switch the job or should i continue few more months.
    please suggest me something, it is about my career.



  • George says:


    I am working as a recruitment officer with the premier government department in Papua New Guinea. I would like if you can deliberate more on the actions/performance or feedback of the interviewee that may guarantee us to determine if he/she is not the right candidate..


  • Amit Bhagria says:

    Hi George,

    You need to have clear job details in place before you meet any candidate. You need to structure questions so that the candidate’s answers help you in the selection process. You need to be well prepared for the interview. Look for functional and behaviour attributes which are in line your organizational values. Try and dig the details provided by the candidate so that you are able to visualize his contribution as an individual. A right candidate for you will be the one whose objectives and goals and in line your organizational aspiration and mission.

    Way to go :)


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