Competency Based Interviews



Professional competency can be described as “the behavioural definition of the knowledge, skills, values and personal qualities that underlie the adequate performance of professional activities”. It is the overall integration of knowledge, skills and abilities into professional practice.


Entry level competencies as outlines by the HSE:

Professional Practice

  • Professionalism
  • Communication


Providing a Quality Service

  • Planning & maintaining a quality service
  • Research & Evidence Based Practice
  • Caseload Management:





Education and Development

  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
  • Education




You can read more about entry level competencies here:



Competency Based Interview

Competency based interview questions are slightly different to the style you may be used to. Questions will be structured to explore your past behaviours and experiences, as the interview is based on the assumption that the best indication of an individual’s future behaviour is their past behaviour. On receipt of an interview you should ask if there is a full job specification available as it may include the competencies required for the position.


The interviewer will assess your responses against each required or desired competency, asking questions about:

•Past behaviours and performance

•Learning from past behaviours

•Future adaptability to the new job

•Knowledge and understanding of issues in relation to the job


The CBI model is a particularly good structure on which to build your responses and will provide an effective way to structure your thoughts:

•C - Circumstances:Describe the situation or circumstances surrounding the event. Keep this brief and relevant.

•B - Behaviour:Describe the specific actions you undertook to overcome the issue or problem.

•I - Impact: Highlight the outcomes achieved and/or impact made as a result of your actions.


Take the time to consider your answers. Ask yourself whether you are using the best example to illustrate the attribute the interviewer is interested in. Your answer should focus on your behaviour and actions. Briefly inform the interviewer(s) of the impact of your actions, focusing on your areas of involvement. Show reflective capacity by analysis of performance remembering to bring out your strengths as well as the areas for improvement. What you are seeking to demonstrate is a strong attachment to learning and development and the principles of continuous improvement.




Sample Questions

Clinical scenarios

Read back over clinical logs and reflective diaries.

Be familiar with evidence based practice for major areas e.g. low back pain.

Explain outcome measures you would use.



Describe a time when you used good communication techniques and why this was important to the situation.

Give an example of when your listening skills helped resolve an issue.


Conflict resolution

Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult patient, how you handled the situation and what the outcome was.

Give an example of an incident when you had to manage conflict with a colleague.


Team working

Can you give an example of a time you assumed leadership within a team?

Describe how you have worked as a member of the MDT in the past.


Caseload Management

How would you prioritise treatment on a busy ward?

What priority would you give to documentation in a busy period?



5 most common questions in an interview

1. Tell me about yourself

2. Why should we give you the job

3. What differentiates you from other applicants?

4. Strengths and weaknesses?

5. Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years time?

Things to avoid during a competency based interview

Avoid talking about ‘we’, i.e. ‘we did this’ ‘we arranged that’ etc. Remember that the interviewer wants to know about you. Talk about what you did by clarifying the role that you played in the situation. Avoid saying "I generally" or "I tend to". Instead, talk affirmatively about what specifically happened in the situation you are describing

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