Prior to the interview

You need to think about any competency-based interview questions you need to ask.

This needs to be a sensible number perhaps up to 3, and you need to think about what competencies will most determine whether someone succeeds, excels even or conversely fails.

You can ask them in one of two ways, firstly based on past experience “Can you tell me about a time when you…?” or secondly based on ability “How would you go about…?” or you may even wish to use a mixture of both.

Mainstream competencies

Initiative and innovation. Developing others. Delivering results.
Team leading. Interpersonal skills. Learning & self-development.
Communication. Planning and organising. Analytical thinking.
Strategic thinking. Building relationships. Teamwork and collaboration.

You can find examples here:

Consider tailoring your approach.

Whilst the above competencies may represent great skills areas to probe candidates about, for some jobs you’ll have more specific needs.

You’ll most likely know what they are.

It’s probable that you’ll want to have one defining question, that should enable you to really understand if candidates got the qualities required to make them a rock star.

NB you need to be consistent, ask candidates the same core set of questions.




Recap and any questions arising from previous interviews or remaining outstanding/yet to be covered.

Query area/s
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Role-play, case study or presentation scenarios

Use of role plays. Any role play or case study scenario really should be focused on what you’d consider being the most challenging aspect of the job i.e. if they can do XYZ, it’s a good indicator towards success.

For senior/professional type roles it may be appropriate to ask the candidate to give a presentation:

“How would you approach your first 100 days in the role” OR “How would you go about undertaking a particular task”.

In the latter case, the most useful will be that task that will most greatly determine their success or failure in the role.

Working on the basis of a 20 min presentation or role-play followed by a Q&A works well.

You must be consistent in how you describe the task. So, it’s best to email the details so that it is clear about what is expected and so they can prepare accordingly.

Your observations of the candidate’s performance of the task!



Appropriate questions to ask at this stage would include:

How would your colleagues describe you?

What would your boss say about you, and what takeaways from reviews?

How do you feel about this opportunity?

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Assuming you are interested in the candidate, and they’re interested in your opportunity…

Then if you’ve not already taken up a sounding/reference, then consider doing so prior to making any offer.

If the candidate is employed you may wish to ask them if they’d be happy for you to take up an informal reference (phone call) with one of their former employers, if unemployed ask about doing so with their most recent employer.


Misc interviewers comments: