What are some common competency-based interview questions in a technology job?

Michael Moretti our consultant managing the role

When hiring for a technology job, companies will want to know about past work experience, qualifications, technical skills and ability, and how this is put into practice to succeed. 

They will also, however, want to know about ‘softer skills’, such as how you work in a team, adapt to change, whether you have good listening skills, or how you use your problem-solving skills to overcome challenges. 

What are competency-based interview questions? 

Competency-based interview questions are designed to assess specific skills, behaviours, and qualities a candidate possesses in relation to the job they are applying for. 

These questions aim to evaluate how well a candidate can handle various situations and challenges based on their past experiences and demonstrated abilities.

We’ve compiled a list of some common competency-based questions that you might encounter from hiring managers or recruiters in an interview for a technology job. 

At Marks Sattin, we’ll provide you with invaluable guidance and tailored coaching which will enhance your proficiency in addressing these questions during your tech job interviews, thereby bolstering your chances of success. Remember, the more prepared you are for your interview, the better it will go. 

Technical competency 

Technical interview questions are designed to evaluate a candidate's understanding, experience, and ability to apply technical knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

These questions could be about any relevant past work experience, qualifications, or your technical skills and abilities. 

  • What technical certifications do you have?
  • What coding language are you most comfortable with?
  • What online resources do you use to help you do your job?

Professional development

These questions are designed to understand if you are eager to learn and develop as well as how you keep up with the latest industry trends. 

  • What do you do to maintain your technical competency?
  • How do you keep your technology skills up to date?

Adaptability 

This is the ability to adjust to changing environments or circumstances whilst maintaining effectiveness. 

  • How do you think technology advances will impact your job?
  • Tell us about the biggest technological change that you have had to deal with. How did you cope with it?

Technological compliance 

These questions are asked to see if you are able to follow technological policies and procedures. 

  • How do you ensure technological compliance with policies in your area of responsibility?
  • Tell us about a time when you might have gone against company policy? Why did you do it and how did you handle it?

Communication

These questions are asked to understand your ability to communicate with colleagues, how well you are able to listen and understand, and how you respond to different communication styles

Verbal

  • Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation?
  • Describe a situation where you had to explain something complex to a colleague or a client. Which problems did you encounter and how did you deal with them?
  • Demonstrate how you vary your communication approach according to the audience that you are addressing.

Listening

  • Give us an example where your listening skills proved crucial to an outcome.
  • Tell us about a time when you were asked to summarise complex points.
  • What place does empathy play in your work? Give an example where you needed to show empathy.

Written

  • What type of writing have you done working in technology? Can you give examples?
  • How do you feel writing a report differs from preparing an oral presentation?
  • How do you plan the writing of a report?

Creativity and Innovation 

Are you able to question conventional approaches and introduce new ideas and innovations? Some roles are looking for people who are able to design and implement new, cutting-edge programs and processes. 

  • Tell us about a project or situation where you felt that the conventional approach would not be suitable. How did you derive and manage a new approach? Which challenges did you face and how did you address them?
  • Tell us about a situation where you trusted your team to derive a new approach to an old problem. How did you manage the process?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to convince a senior colleague that change was necessary. What made you think that your new approach would be better suited?

Conflict management 

These questions are designed to test whether you are able to anticipate and take steps to prevent counterproductive confrontations in a constructive manner.

  • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team.
  • Tell us about a situation where conflict led to a negative outcome. How did you handle the situation and what did you learn from it?
  • Give us an example where you were unable to deal with a difficult member of your team.

Decisiveness 

These questions test if you are able to make well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data is limited. 

  • What big decision have you made recently? How did you go about it?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to delay a decision to reflect on the situation. What did you need to do this?
  • How do you handle the decision-making processes and manage expectations?

Delegation 

This competency-based question is designed to see if you are able to make full and best use of subordinates, providing appropriate support. 

  • What type of responsibilities do you delegate? Give examples of technical projects where you made the best use of delegation.
  • Give an example of a project or task that you felt compelled to complete on your own. What stopped you from delegating?
  • How do you cope with having to go away from the office for long periods of time (e.g. holidays)? Explain how you would delegate responsibilities.

Flexibility 

Are you able to easily modify your approach to achieve a goal? This skill is about being open to change and new information; rapidly adapting to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles.

  • Describe a situation where you had to change your approach halfway through a project or task following new input into the project.
  • Describe a situation where you started off thinking that your approach was the best, but needed to alter your course during the implementation.
  • Describe a situation where one of your projects suffered a setback due to an unexpected change in circumstances.
  • Describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you had never attempted previously.

Independence 

These questions are designed to see if you are able to act based on your own convictions and not systematically accepted wisdom.

  • Which decisions do you feel able to make on your own and which do you require senior support to make?
  • Describe a project or situation where you took a project to completion independently.

Leadership 

Interviewers are keen to learn about your leadership capabilities, which involve acting as a role model, foreseeing and adapting to change, and effectively communicating a vision to a team.

  • Tell us about a situation where you had to get a team to improve its performance. What were the problems and how did you address them?
  • Describe a situation where you had to drive a team through change. How did you achieve this?
  • Describe a project or situation where you had to use different leadership styles to reach your goal.

Leveraging diversity

Interviewers are interested in how you foster inclusivity and leverage diverse perspectives within the workplace, appreciating the value of individual differences to achieve the organisation's vision and mission.

  • Give an example of a situation or project where a positive outcome depended on the work of people from a wide range of backgrounds and ideas.
  • Tell us about a time when you included someone in your team or a project because you felt they would bring something different to the team.

Organisational awareness 

Interviewers want to know about your awareness of underlying organizational issues, gauging your ability to comprehend the complexities and dynamics within an organization.

  • Describe a project where you needed to involve input from other departments. How did you identify that need and how did you ensure buy-in from the appropriate leaders and managers?
  • Describe a time when you failed to engage at the right level in your organisation. Why did you do that and how did you handle the situation?

Resilience and tenacity 

Interviewers seek insights into your resilience and tenacity, evaluating how you effectively handle pressure, remain optimistic and persistent in challenging situations, and stay committed to problem-solving until a solution is attained.

  • Tell us about a project where you achieved success despite the odds being stacked against you. How did you ensure that you pulled through?
  • Give us an example of a situation where you knew that a project or task would place you under great pressure. How did you plan your approach and remain motivated?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?

Teamwork 

With these questions, interviewers aim to understand how well you contribute to team efforts and play an essential role in maintaining the smooth functioning of teams, even without assuming a leadership position.

  • Describe a situation in which you were a member of a team. What did you do to positively contribute to it?
  • Tell us about a situation where you played an important role in a project as a member of a team, not as a leader.
  • How do you ensure that every member of the team is allowed to participate?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team; what did you do to help resolve the situation?
  • How do you build relationships with other members of your team?

Land your next technology job with Marks Sattin 

Competency-based interview questions vary widely between sectors and depend on the level of responsibility to which you are applying. The type of competencies against which you will be assessed also depends on the role and the company that is interviewing you. 

Now that we’ve prepared you for tech interview questions you might encounter in an interview, you should be well equipped to leave a lasting impression on your interviewer

All that’s left to do is find the right technology role for you!

Read more about technology recruitment or get in touch with Michael Moretti today to find out more.

20/10/23
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