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Structured, competency-based interviews

The interview provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate the required skills and attributes and ‘sell’ yourself for the role.

It is also an opportunity for you to meet the manager, find out more about the role and about the regulator as a potential employer.

This information will help you with your own decision making. The results of the interview will be combined with the information already attained from your CV and where appropriate your recruitment agency and/or the telephone interview to consider your suitability for the job.

The selection process may also be supported by other methods of assessment – psychometric testing and personality questionnaires for example.

Behavioural skills and attributes are important to job performance

Our behavioural skills and attributes make us who we are and they influence the way we react and respond to events in our lives and thus how we perform at work.

There is a direct relationship between our skills, attributes and behaviour and our performance at work. Consequently, it makes sense for interviewers to ask candidates about these areas and to see how they ‘match’ the requirements of the job. Similarly, from the individual’s point of view, they can assess whether the job matches their attributes and behaviours such that they would be happy in that job.

Preparing for the interview

There are two main categories to consider – the job and you.

  1. The job. Make sure that you have enough information about the role. Using the job advert details, take note of the behaviours, and attributes as well as the technical skills required, and the accountabilities of the job. Think through how these match your own particular ability to do the job.
  2. You. Start by thinking through your past achievements, particularly over the last 18 months.

    Consider the things that you have done which you are proud of; the situations you feel you have handled particularly well; the way in which you have contributed to the success of the business as a whole.

    • What behavioural skills and attributes do these achievements suggest to you?
    • How do the requirements of this role match with your current job and past experience?
    • Are there any gaps in your experience?
    • How can you address these gaps in preparation for the interview, eg special project work you have undertaken?
    • Are there any activities which you undertake outside of work that could be relevant?
    • What questions can I ask myself?

    For each of these achievements, think about the part you played:

    • What did you do?
    • What did you say?
    • What were you thinking?
    • How did you overcome any problems?
    • What did you learn from the experience?

From this, you should have a clear understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. Think through how you will present these achievements to the interviewer.

What will happen during the interview?

There are usually two or three interviewers in this process. As well as making your acquaintance and finding out more about your career history, the interviewers will ask you questions to gain information about the key skills, attributes and behaviours.

Example questions could be:

'Tell me about a time when you have had to plan a project.'
'Describe an occasion when you came up with a solution to a problem.'
'When has it been important to work as part of a group to achieve a particular goal?'

This may feel a little strange at first, not least because it appears rather formal as an approach. The interviewer will also be taking detailed notes to ensure that your responses are clearly recorded and can be distinguished from other candidates.

In addition, specific questions will be asked about the particular technical skills and experience required for the role. These will focus primarily on the skills and knowledge you will have developed while working in a relevant job or related environment.

Interview duration

It is likely that this type of interview will last approximately 60 minutes on average.


  • Your examples should be recent and relevant.
  • The interviewer is interested in you and what you have achieved, not about your team, colleagues or manager’s achievements.
  • Talk about the part you played in the team’s achievements, your contribution to any initiatives or projects and how you have supported your manager.
  • Try to answer the question asked as specifically as possible, but be prepared to have to explain some of your experiences in quite a lot of depth.
  • If the interviewers stop you from expanding on a particular point, don’t let this put you off – they want to ensure that you have the opportunity to discuss in detail the areas of greatest interest to the interviewers.
  • Do not waffle – try to keep to the question asked.
  • There will be an opportunity at the end for you to add any information that you think is relevant which has not been covered during the interview. This is also the point at which you should ask any outstanding questions you have about the role.

Equal opportunities

In accordance with our equal opportunities policy, we recruit and select staff on the basis of their demonstrated ability, qualifications and suitability for work.

We will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of their age, colour, disability, ethnic or national origin, marital status, race, sex, sexual orientation or religion or belief or on the basis of a criminal record that does not make the applicant unsuitable for the work with us or on any other unjustifiable basis.

You will be asked to complete a diversity monitoring form to assist us in monitoring the effectiveness of our equal opportunities policy.

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