Having explored effective preparation for Competency Based Interviews here, the below is an example of a Competency Based Interview Question and the answer.
“Tell me about a time when you have been under pressure in the workplace”
I have just been asked a competency based interview question, let’s consider what we are actually being asked and the reason why before putting forward an answer. This employer needs me to demonstrate how I deal with pressure, immediately this suggests that this role with come with pressure and that I will be expected to manage this effectively. At this stage, I would, of course, have read through a formal job description and will likely have a grasp of the level of pressure the job involves and now I need this to reflect in my answer. I do not want to rush my response, instead, I want to think of an example which is relatively recent in order to demonstrate that dealing with pressure is part and parcel of my job and that I can deal with situations like this. I might start my answer with something along the lines of:
“Dealing with pressure is a key element of my position. A good example to give you would be in my most recent employment with LDRC and is only from last week. At LDRC I am frequently responsible for the delivery of large-scale interviews which apply pressure from three different parties, candidates seeking work, employers seeking strong candidates and the business requiring results. Most recently I have been integral in the setup and delivery of a recruitment campaign which carried with it a high amount of pressure”
Here I have clearly outlined that dealing with pressure is something that I frequently manage, but that I understand the importance of avoiding complacency, I have been clear both about my responsibility within this pressured situation and where this pressure is coming from. Now that I have explained the situation I am able to move into talking through how I dealt with it:
“I lead an initial meeting with the employer at which I was able to understand that they needed to employ an additional 5 people within a short timeframe. Through questioning the employer it was clear that while the need was urgent, quality of candidates was still very important. Based on my previous successful outcomes with other employers, I proposed that we run an interview day which would see the day split into different timeslots, included time to reflect on interview feedback and would be based on the ratios that would be expected to see the outcome that was desired. I gave my guarantee to a committed delivery of this plan.
At this point, the example starts to become a bit recruitment specific, but what I have done is relevant to any sector and experience. I have clearly stated that this situation involves me referring to myself in the first person throughout. I am now covering the task by outlining how I came to be under pressure at work, but in doing so am highlighting my commitment and why I have agreed to that based on my previous working results. I would now move onto discussing the actions that I completed taking the situation from where it starts to its conclusion.
“Although this was something I was adept at setting up, each recruitment campaign works differently and as such, following my commitment to the employer I needed to set up a specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, time-bound action plan to work to. At this stage, I had agreed my timeframe commitment and so I broke down key performance indicators based on the previous experience and the expectation of how many people I would need to call in order to speak to the relevant amount of people to reach the desired outcome.”
I have acknowledged that I can use my previous experience but that it was important to set up an action plan specifically for this campaign. I have shown the way in which my action plan would be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound) and set myself clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to work on going forward.
“I started working to my targets straight away with mixed results, it became clear to me that while I was able to achieve the volume required, I was not achieving the quality that would have been expected. I had to ensure that I had quickly identified reasons that figures might not be achieved because of the strict timescale that I was working too. It became clear that there were not enough results coming through to interview bookings as a result of quality not matching the expectation of the employer. I was in regular dialogue with the employer and so ensured that they were kept up to date, however. I needed to ensure that I had kept the business up to date and as such detailed exactly where I was along with my action plan to improve results. At this stage, the pressure on me to deliver results was at its strongest.”
Here I am demonstrating a strong element of the pressure while doing something that is brave in an interview by admitting that everything hasn’t gone to plan, this only works when I am able to show that I have worked towards a resolution. I have been able to demonstrate my communication and problem-solving skills by speaking to the employer and business, presenting a solution.
“I worked out that I needed to carry out 20% more initial calls to see the expected results, this would mean that I needed to ensure that all of my workloads would still be manageable. I calculated timeframes around all of my workloads including the increased calls and noted that I needed to reassess my workload. Knowing that I had committed delivery of not only this campaign but other pieces of work, I ensured that my workload was prioritised and that any work that was not immediately required could be managed within a relative timeframe. I set the expectation of my revisions with the business and the other employers that I was working with.”
In presenting my solution, I have shown the way in which I analysed figures to see where I had fallen short and what I needed to do in order to improve. I have effectively managed my own workload by using prioritisation and should my revised plan work, I will have achieved what I set out to do.
“The change I had impacted resulted in the desired outcome being able to achieve the numbers that I had initially set out. Other work that had been managing did not suffer as a result, however, was subject to amendment as appropriate. I believe that my effective communication, quick performance analysis and effective decision making ensured the success of this campaign. Going forward, I now have a different and more tailored example of performance metrics that would enable me to prepare more effectively for a similar campaign when the opportunity should arise again. Throughout this situation, the pressure constantly existed from the employer and the business along with the pressure of working effectively with candidates and not letting my own quality slip as a result of increased volumes. I believe that I would have reached the same outcome in this example which is as a result of the pressure that I would put upon myself to deliver anything that I have committed to.”
Focusing on the result, it is important to reflect accurately and honestly on everything that has happened throughout. I have reflected on my own performance and what I did that ensured success, whilst making sure that I have learned something that will mean I do not have to be in the same situation next time. I end by reflecting on the reason for the question, emphasising the pressure but most importantly acknowledging the importance of pressure that the pressure that I put on myself.
With careful thought, you will be able to ensure you understand the reason for your interview question and be able to provide an answer that is not only reflective of your skills and experience but perfectly relates to the situation that any employer would like to see you in. More of our interview preparation suite can be found by clicking this link:
Contributor: Tristan Law