Questions for competency based interviews should be released beforehand

(40 Posts)
BingoFlamingo Thu 24-Mar-16 09:11:58

I know some companies do this, but most don't. Job applicants going for competency based interviews should be given the questions they will be asked at the interview in advance. AIBU?

The whole point of competency questions in job interviews is to choose the best candidate based on previous actions; to make the best decision, you need the best evidence; to get the best evidence, candidates should be given the questions that will be asked beforehand so they can focus on coming up with examples in those areas and not waste time with hypothetical questions.

Everyone wins: The companies hiring get better examples to base their decisions on and candidates don't waste time second guessing what questions they will be asked. Not giving the candidates the questions beforehand actually defeats the whole point of comp questions as it prevents the company from gaining the best information possible.

It seems to be a remnant from a time when conversational led interviews were the norm and questions often came out of the conversation so often weren't known in advance, but it doesn't make sense in com based interviews when specific historical examples to a question are demanded.

sooperdooper Thu 24-Mar-16 09:15:57

Every competency based interview I've had I've been given a list of the competencies - not the actual questions but enough to come up with examples

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 24-Mar-16 09:21:42

I don't really see the point tbh. Every firm I've ever worked with has always had the core competencies published far and wide and accessible in the public domain. That's sufficient imo.

I interview a lot and it's always interesting to see who is listening and answering the questions asked and who is giving their prepared answer regardless. The latter rarely make it through because they're not demonstrating their soft skills.

BingoFlamingo Thu 24-Mar-16 09:22:58

Sooper, they can be used to narrow it down, but a competency could have a dozen or more possible questions based on it, each needing a different example.

Bishybishybarnabee Thu 24-Mar-16 09:25:59

I disagree, if the answers were prepped beforehand then the interview wouldn't give much more away than a written application form does. Competencies, values etc are usually available in advance so give the opportunity for some preparation and to think what might be useful examples to raise in the interview.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 24-Mar-16 09:29:19

Based on my experience there are real problems with overly rehearsed answers that preclude further probing. Plus there's more to an interview than hearing a really good example (although those help obviously).

If you just wanted an answer to the question you might as well put it on the application form. The point of the interview is to get an idea of how somebody is and what their potential is/what their strengths are. It is not just what they have done or we'd just ask for CVs or written answers.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 24-Mar-16 09:30:35

X-posted with Bishy who has posted what I said is quite right grin

nulgirl Thu 24-Mar-16 09:30:56

Prepped answers can be useful but they don't tell you much about the ability of the candidate to respond under pressure, how quickly they can gather their thoughts, their analysis skills in listening, understanding and responding appropriately.

Most jobs don't follow scripts so you need someone who can think fast and vary their response accordingly. I always look for someone who can think quickly "on their feet" as they will pick up new skills quicker.

Perhaps a mixture of rehearsed and adhoc questions would be best to judge the candidate.

BingoFlamingo Thu 24-Mar-16 09:34:38

MovingOnUp. You want candidates to instantly give you an example of a specific situation presented in a structured STAR format without having any prepared examples lined up? confused

Why not give the specific questions instead of a general competency? You would get better examples. As I say, some enlightened companies already do this.

nulgirl Thu 24-Mar-16 09:41:38

But if you give all the specific questions then all you get is canned answers. Most if not all of the candidates will be able to answer if they are given enough time to prep. What the interviewer is interested in is how you have listened, interpreted and gathered your thoughts. That's what differentiates the best candidate.

BingoFlamingo Thu 24-Mar-16 09:44:24

Moving - "If you just wanted an answer to the question you might as well put it on the application form. The point of the interview is to get an idea of how somebody is and what their potential is/what their strengths are. It is not just what they have done or we'd just ask for CVs or written answers."

Fine, but a more conversational based interview is best for that.

Thisisnotausername Thu 24-Mar-16 09:44:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 24-Mar-16 10:18:00

An interview is a dialogue. It is by definition a structured conversation.

Why don't you tell us about the specific example you're thinking about op? Because at the moment I really don't get your point. I think I've explained myself adequately about why and others have too and yet you still want more? confused

And yes, I do expect people to be able to answer a competency based question and ideally using the STAR model but if they don't I can probe to get what I need. Except for employers where we're not allowed to probe any more because the psychologist who wrote the questions has never had a proper job says we can't but those tend to be recruiting for serious jobs with literally hundreds of applicants.

In the last couple of months I've done maybe 50 interview observations. Of those two stand out because the interviewee tried to control the interview (both were painful
car crashes) and another answered the questions he'd prepared not the specific questions asked. It was indicative of how they behave at work and their negative behaviours. None of them have jobs now.

I don't think pre preparing answers in full works, you just end up with very un-natural respondes which people learn word for word. You don't learn enough about them or how they communicate, you don't see how they think under pressure and it also makes it far easier for people to prepare totally fictitious answers.

I've managed to come up with plenty of star responses on the spot though. Before an interview I look at the general competencies and also think through what I've done over the last few years so that I have as many examples as possible in my head.

EssentialHummus Thu 24-Mar-16 10:29:53

I do a lot of interview prep with would-be lawyers. There are a finite list of competencies that any company will look for, and most are listed in the job ad or on the company's website. Yes, each competency can be asked about in more than one way, but most people can, with a bit of practice, adapt the examples they have adequately enough.

Basically, although you haven't been given the question outright, you already know what the competencies are likely to be and can start thinking up examples. So if you research the role and company correctly, you have all the info you need.

Also, this:

Prepped answers can be useful but they don't tell you much about the ability of the candidate to respond under pressure, how quickly they can gather their thoughts, their analysis skills in listening, understanding and responding appropriately.

wasonthelist Thu 24-Mar-16 10:41:11

This thread's generating a lot of debate - I'd love to know the industries respondents are operating in and whether public or private sector (curious type) but don't wish to derail the OPs AIBU.

Crinkle77 Thu 24-Mar-16 10:42:08

I agree with you OP. I find interviews very stressful and having the questions before hand would relax me enough so I could give full rounded answers. I do all I can to prepare in advance but find that nerves make me go blank and as a result don't perform to my best.

LemonBreeland Thu 24-Mar-16 10:45:00

I have had many interviews like this. I feel that it is my job to go into an interview with prepared answers for questions I may come across. Often you can guess the likely questions. It is about preparation.

I would love to knwo befrehand, however it would not benefit the interviewers as it gives people time to make something up and not be genuine.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 24-Mar-16 10:47:10

I'm an independent contractor so I do work for a mix of clients but mostly blue chip, professional clients.

I have also done charity, SMEs, a start up and indirectly public sector.

LittleLionMansMummy Thu 24-Mar-16 10:51:07

I want to see how people respond under pressure, how resilient they are and how adept they are at tailoring their responses to the given situation. I'm a 'nice' interviewer so I try to put people at ease but I expect some damn good answers and the ability to bounce back from those responses that are aren't so good. I come from public sector background - required competencies are put out there along with the 'essential' and 'desirable' skills and experience so it's not completely 'blind'. My best employees have been those who have remained steady, confident and unflustered in the face of the unknown. I would not have believed them had they been given the opportunity to 'rehearse'.

And I say this as someone who is extremely bad at being the interviewee!

flowery Thu 24-Mar-16 10:54:39

If you have a person specification stating what qualities, skills, experience and attributes the role requires it is perfectly possible to identify what sort of questions you are likely to get.

If candidates have the exact questions beforehand it gives them and all their mates, their mum, their HR manager friend and their partner time to construct fake scenarios where they have demonstrated that competency.

If they have to think on their feet in an interview, they are only likely to give a credible answer if it is genuine. Thinking of fake scenarios is unlikely to be possible straightaway, whilst remembering real things they've done is much easier, therefore those who genuinely have that experience will answer better.

Private sector - financial services for me.

Admittedly my last interview they deliberately pushed to see how people cope under pressure- it was part of their approach as the type of work means that you will sometimes be in a client facing scenario and not know the answer and they need to see how people respond to that

pitterpatterrain Thu 24-Mar-16 10:59:56

We don't give the questions in advance. Yes I expect someone to answer the question in the interview, I capture my notes usig STAR but it's not too much of an issue to probe if that is not how it is shared.

The goal is to assess the candidate in real-life situations as everyone can look "perfect" on paper - you don't get time to prep the perfect answer day-to-day in the job.

I have no problem if someone wants a few minutes to frame their thoughts. Or want to confirm their understanding of the question.

The biggest issue I see is people fail to answer the question at all, bring out a canned response, or talk about a general situation where their personal contribution is unclear.

ilovesooty Thu 24-Mar-16 11:03:02

My company let's interviewees look at the questions and prepare for 15 minutes prior to the interview.

I don't agree with giving them out before the day.

ilovesooty Thu 24-Mar-16 11:05:59

Lets - predictive text.

I agree that if the competencies are already on the person specification it should be possible to put in a reasonable degree of thought beforehand.

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