6 competency-based interview questions to ask candidates

Asking the right interview questions can be a challenge for any company that’s hiring. Competency-based interview questions might just be the answer to getting a clearer picture of candidate strengths and weaknesses.

As a specialist manufacturing and engineering recruitment agency, Ernest Gordon has been hearing a lot about them in recent years.

Here are six of the top competency-based interview questions we’ve come across. Ask them of potential engineering and manufacturing job candidates if you want to explore how they will perform when actually in the workplace:

The best competency-based interview questions

1) Tell me about when you were part of a team that had to work together to successfully complete a project

Teamwork is one of the key competencies of any manufacturing or engineering job. As with all competency-based interview questions, your goal is to have the candidate respond by sharing an example from their past experience.

From this question, you should learn about a candidate’s understanding of:

  • What constitutes teamwork
  • How to work together with other people successfully
  • Project goals and metrics for success

2) Describe a time in a previous position where you creatively solved a problem

Again, your goal here is to elicit a response that makes the candidate draw on their real-life experience. In this case, relating to problem-solving – a vital requirement when recruiting for most manufacturing or engineering positions.

An inability to be alert and solve problems that may arise is a serious liability in a candidate for most roles in either sector. This question sheds a little light on how good a candidate is at thinking on their feet.

3) Talk about an instance when your communication skills improved a situation

This is the sort of competency-based interview question to ask if you want to know a bit more about how a candidate will operate after you hire them.

Good communication skills are a must for the vast majority of job roles, but especially important in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. This question lets you explore whether this candidate:

  • Will be a good fit for your company culture
  • Will be a positive – or at least a neutral – force for workplace morale
  • Will be able to maintain good relationships in the workplace

4) Discuss a time when you had a disagreement in the workplace and how you handled it

By no means unique to our key sectors, a question about conflict resolution can be very illustrative of how a candidate will fit into your team. You can ask yourself:

  • What sort of tone do they use when they describe the situation?
  • Do they display emotional intelligence and awareness?
  • Do they handle the situation in the way you would like them to?

5) Tell me about a time you made an important decision and how you made it

“Big” decisions might not be important for every role, but it’s good to know that a candidate can work without someone constantly looking over their shoulder.

You should get a clearer idea of what they see as the important factors to pay attention to when making a decision as well as their level of attention to detail.

6) Talk about a time when you lead a team through a difficult project

Competency-based interview questions really come into their own when you are recruiting for leadership roles.

Learn more about how a potential hire understands the entire working of a project, team communication and leadership in one all-encompassing question that encourages them to illustrate how they work.

Competency-based interview questions – answering as a candidate

From the other side of the table, competency-based interview questions can be tough to answer. That’s why they’re so good for the person who’s asking them.

As the person applying for the engineering or manufacturing job, try to have a ready example for each of the areas listed here. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. But having a good instance to talk about can be just what you need to land your next dream role.

Need a little bit of help recruiting for or finding a job in a manufacturing or engineering field?

Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering and manufacturing recruitment company. Every day, we source ideal candidates and locate great roles for people up and down the UK.

Talk to us today. About the role you need to fill or the position you want to be in.