What Is a Skills-Based Interview?

by Denise Brandenberg; Updated September 26, 2017
Skills-based interviews focus on past behavior.

In a competitive job market, job seekers use interviews to make a good impression on their prospective new employers. A job interview may be the one and only chance you have to win over a hiring manager, so you want to do your absolute best at it. While there are many types of interviews that hiring managers use, skills-based interviews are becoming common. If you have this type of upcoming interview, prepare for it so you’ll know what to expect.

Definition

Skills-based interviews are known by other names, such as competency-based interview, behavioral event interview, structured interview and situational interview. These types of interviews are conducted when an employer knows exactly what he is looking for in an ideal job candidate, and has a list of pre-set qualifications or skills that the candidate must meet. All the interview questions are designed to evaluate whether or not the candidate actually fits the description.

Principle

The main principle behind a skills-based interview is that a job candidate’s past work behavior is an accurate way to predict how he will perform in future jobs. According to the University of Kent Career Services website, interviewers look for specific examples in the candidate’s work history to see if he actually has the necessary skill sets required for success in the position.

Types of Questions

Be prepared to answer a wide variety of questions about your work experience in a skills-based interview. For example, the interviewer may ask, “Give me an example of a time you had to calm down an irate customer. What happened? What did you do? What was the outcome?” Another example is, “Tell me about a time that you had more than one project due on the same day. How did you get everything done? Did you meet the required deadlines or due dates?"

Tips

You can be successful in a skills-based interview if you prepare for it correctly. First, read and reread the job description until you know it completely. Then answer all the questions with that job description in mind. Make sure your answers demonstrate that you meet the key requirements of it. Practice for the interview by writing down past job accomplishments beforehand. This way, when you are asked to give an example of a prior work situation, you have several scenarios to choose from fresh on your mind.

About the Author

Denise Brandenberg has more than 15 years professional experience as a marketing copywriter, with a focus in public relations. She also worked as a recruiter for many years and is a certified resume writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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