Guest blog: Preparing for interviews



Today we have a guest blog from Natalie Raeside who runs a company called Candidate Solutions. She is going to give us some tips on preparing for competency-based interviews.


In 2001 I conducted the first of what now feels like hundreds of job interviews.  Having always had an ambition to work within Human Resources and upon joining the Resourcing Team of a global bank, I was introduced to the concept of Competency Based Interview.

Competency Based Interview questions (Behavioural or Structured interview questions as they are sometimes known) are very specific in terms of their structure. This type of interview requires an interviewee to give the interviewer an example which demonstrates a particular competency or skill.  The Interviewer uses the evidence (the examples) that the interviewee brings to the interview and uses it as an indication of how he / she will perform in the future.

Using the right example, the right key words as well as using a good amount of structure is essential to passing a Competency Based Interview.  I have witnessed too many job applicants losing out on a job offer simply because they have given poorly constructed answers to Competency Based Questions. This, in my experience is generally down to the lack of preparation.

After leaving the big wide world of business to stay at home with my 2 children, I set up a small business called Candidate Solutions.  The objective of this business is to help job seekers prepare for job interviews.  In this vulnerable climate,  job seekers who are lucky enough to be invited to an interview in my opinion must have an advantage over all other applicants in order to succeed.

An interviewee who has thoroughly prepared for a competency based interview, in my experience, has more chance of being successful.


In order to prepare for the interview, my advice to applicants is to find out from the recruiting manager or recruitment agency what format the interview will take and what type of questions will be asked.  If the format is Competency Based Interview, it doesn’t harm to ask what competencies will be used.  Alternatively, read through the job description, role profile or job advertisement and try to pick out the key skills that the job will require.  These key skills are the competencies.

Once the competencies or key skills are established, preparation can begin.

During a Competency Based Interview, the series of questions that are used usually start with “Give me an example of a time” or “Tell me about an occasion”.

Examples of Competency Based Questions

Give me an example of a time where you had to deliver a communication to your team.

Tell me about a time when you achieved a successful result through the actions of a team.

Tell me about a time when you had to open up to a colleague to help them understand your point of view.

Other Tips

When answering Competency Based Interview questions, using the STAR acronym may help to structure the example more effectively and help to set the scene for the interviewer.






Answer the Question

 It is so easy fall into the trap of using all the examples that have been prepared without answering the question that is being asked.

Be Specific

Examples should be specific. Talking generally about situations that the interviewee finds themselves in on a daily basis will not gain marks. Talk about one situation and use one example.

Need more help? 

As an experienced interviewer and using the knowledge and experience that I have gained over my career, I have written a guide to help job seekers prepare for interview.

I have 25 free copies of this guide to give away.

This comprehensive guide (usually £18.99) covers the 15 competencies you are most likely to encounter during your interview. It breaks down each competency individually, provides examples of the types of questions you may be asked and gives you expert advice on how to answer the questions.

Get your limited FREE copy by contacting me at or visit my website


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