4 Reasons to Conduct a Competency Based Interview

Behavior Skills

STEM jobs went unfilled by the millions in recent years due to a shortage of qualified applicants. Other industries that require skilled labor didn’t fare much better.

If your business needs these kinds of skilled employees, that means you probably struggle in the hiring process. In the meantime, more work falls on your existing staff. A more insidious problem than understaffing is hiring the wrong person.

Wrong hires can delay work, ruin projects and destroy morale. A traditional interview can show you important personality traits. Yet, a competency based interview may do a better job of identifying the right hire.

Let’s jump in and look at a few of the reasons why.

Measure Behavioral Skills

Success in a workplace isn’t just a matter of technical skills.

A freelance web developer, for example, might demonstrate superior coding skills. It doesn’t mean he knows how to lead a team project. Interviews focused on competencies aim to measure these more intangible skills.

Say you need a real team player to fill a role. You ask specific questions about how they handle common teamwork issues, such as:

  • How did you resolve conflict with a team member in the past?
  • Why did you choose that approach?
  • Did it work? Why or why not?

This gives you insight into how they process team conflict. It gives you a window into their problem-solving process. It also tells you whether they learn from it.

A Competency Based Interview Applies Structure

A traditional interview works like a conversation punctuated by a few pertinent questions. The interviewer is, in effect, trying to get a feel for the other person. The problem is that unstructured interviews vary widely from interviewee to interviewee.

That means an interviewer can develop a bias based on charm or shared interests rather than potential performance.

Competency oriented interviews apply a strict structure where everyone answers the same questions. That means hiring decisions are based on more equal comparisons. It also makes them 81% more accurate.

Cuts Down on Bias

Bias in the hiring process is still alive and well. Just look at the recent uproar surrounding the tech industry in recent years.

Structured interviews that ask the same questions limit bias. They keep you or a hiring manager focused on whether an applicant will perform well in the role.


When you don’t hire someone, they want to know why. It might stem from an emotional need or wanting to improve for future interviews.

A competency-based interview gives you specific reasons to hire or not hire a person. You can share those reasons with the applicants.

After all, which would you rather see?

“I’m afraid we chose a different candidate.”


“Based on the interview, you lack some of the leadership skills needed for this position. Specifically, you should work on honing X, Y, and Z.”

The first reads like a blow off. The second reads like a kind gesture.

Parting Thoughts

A competency based interview offers several advantages.

It measures behavioral skills critical to success in your organization. It’s more accurate and produces less bias. It leaves you specific information to share with applicants, regardless of whether you hire them.

PT Systems specializes in connecting companies with skilled talent. For questions or more information about our services, contact us today.