Competency-based interview questions require applicants to discuss how they can satisfy the level of skills and abilities required for a position. An interviewer might ask what experience you have in taking information from new clients or patients. You would describe past work experiences and training scenarios. Based on what you say, an interviewer determines if you really know intake techniques.

Omits Important Competencies

A competency-based interview has disadvantages for the organization. In the interest of time, an organization chooses select competencies essential to an organization or position. Then the interviewer targets these competencies with structured questions. One disadvantage is that these questions do not cover all competencies a person needs, and the discussion usually will not occur in a chronological order that the interviewer can follow. Discussed out of context, examples of a candidate's competencies could be incomplete.

Giving Up Probes

If you give up asking probing questions to stick to scripted questions, standardizing your approach for all candidates, you could miss out on important information a candidate could share. For example, you might ask a person to expand on a response to a competency-based question, but you might not get enough details about how a person believes he met the qualification to determine if it has been met.


These interviews are valuable only if questions are worded correctly. For example, the interview question should not point to the right answer, such as a leading question, or disclose how a person will be evaluated for her response. A disadvantage is when an interviewer responds to an interviewee by asking a followup question or with an evaluative statement that indicates she has succeeded or failed in demonstrating the right level of competence in that portion of the interview.

High Standards Do Not Produce a Good Match

When competency-based interviews are based on a job posting with high minimum qualifications, an organization can find candidates who are very overqualified. The example is the first-line supervisor who is hired, but this person really has 10 years of supervising professionals, not line workers. This type of hire for an entry-level management position would not be the right fit for the organization. An organization must match job qualifications to specific job competencies with realistic expectations for what an ideal candidate would have in his background.