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Potential Interview Questions

Competency Based Interviews (CBI)

Competency Based Interviews (also known as Behavioural Interviews) are becoming more standard in medium to large organisations. This type of interview technique focuses on core competencies that are needed to be successful in a role and may include technical knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes. These competencies may have been identified in the position description given to your prior to interview or by your AC consultant at interview.

CBI assesses ‘behaviour’. The term ‘behaviour’ is used to describe a person’s past actions and accomplishments, as well as their reactions and actions during the interview.

You will be required to provide specific examples of situations where this may have occurred in your past working history and how you handled that situation in terms of your action and response. You would then summarise the outcome or result of your action.

Examples of CBI questions:

Achievement Drive

• What would be the best example of you giving a project or piece of work your absolutely best effort and being disappointed by the outcome? What would you do differently next time around?
• What steps have you taken in the last year to improve your own performance?
• Give me an example of when you worked the hardest and felt the greatest sense of achievement.
• What do you consider to be the most important contributions your department has made to the organisation? What was your role?
• What motivates/de-motivates you about your current job? How do you know when you succeed?
• How do you cope with unrealistic objectives? What are your feelings? What is your strategy?

Analytical Thinking

• Describe the biggest problems you have faced in the last six months. How did you handle them?
• Describe any significant ideas that you have conceived in the past year.
• Describe your most recent task/project. What was your involvement, how did you set about working on the project?
• Describe a specific task you found especially challenging. What was it about the task that you found difficult? How did you overcome the difficulty? What was the result?

Conceptual Thinking

• Describe a situation that required careful thought on your behalf.

Demonstrate Empathy

• Describe a time when you were sensitive to co-workers’ needs or situations.

Develop Others

• What have you done to develop the people in your current team?
• What are the major training and development needs of the people in your department? How did you identify them? What are you going to do about them?
• What techniques have you found most useful in developing subordinates? How did you use them with _______?
• To what extent did subordinates participate in decision you made at _____? Why?

Take Ownership

• Have you ever had to go against general feelings or policies to accomplish a goal? Tell me about them.
• What are the occasions in which you feel that you must consult your manager before taking action?
• What kind of decisions do you make in your present job? Give me some examples of major decisions.
• What are the most difficult decisions you have made over the last six months? What made them difficult?
• Describe the toughest decision you have had to make within a work context. What was the situation? How did you approach it and evaluate the options? How did you feel? What was the outcome?

Attention to detail

• We have all had occasions when we were working on something that just ‘slipped through the cracks’. Can you give me some examples of when this happened to you? Cause? Results?
• Can you give me an example of a time when you found errors in your work? Cause? Results? How did you handle this?
• We have all had times when we just could not get everything done on time. When and why has this happened to you?
• Can you describe a time when you needed to cut corners to get something done? How did you feel? What was the outcome?


• Tell me about some situations in your job where you had to abruptly change what you were doing. What did you do? How did it affect you?
• (For contract workers) What kind of problems did you run into switching from position to position?
• Describe a time when another person was able to persuade you of their views and opinions. How did you feel about the issue initially? Was the person able to change your mind? How?


• What changes have you tried to implement in your area of responsibility? What have you done to get them underway?
• Give me some examples of you doing more than required in your job.
• Tell me about some projects you generated on your own.
• Describe your involvement in a task or project that had to be done within an agreed timeframe and be of an excellent work standard.
• Describe a situation in which you found the results were not up to budget/company expectation. What did you do to rectify the matter?

Interpersonal Skills / Communication

• Could you give me an example of a presentation you have made to a senior management or client group. Describe how the information was prepared and presented.
• Can you describe a tough inter-personal situation that you have been faced with? What was the situation? Why was it tough? How did you approach the situation? How did you feel? How did you remain objective? What was the outcome?

Take direction

• Describe a time when you receive negative feedback or criticism on your performance. How did you feel? How did you respond? What did you do differently as a result?

Team work

• Tell me about some of the toughest groups that you have had to get cooperation from. What did you do? Did you have any formal authority?
• How often do you attend meetings with your peers? What role did you play in the last meeting?
• What are some of the most difficult one-on-one meetings that you have had with other members of your company? Why were they difficult?
• We have all had to deal with difficult people. Give me some examples of when this has happened to you.
• Tell me about a new policy or idea you recently implemented which was considerably different from the standard procedure.
• Give me a situation where you have had to influence a group of people to do something. What did you do to get what you wanted from the group? What were the satisfactions and disappointments?

Examples of standard interview questions:

• What kind of role are you seeking?
• Why would you like to work with this organisation?
• What interests you about our product and/or service?
• What are your major strengths and/or weaknesses?
• How do you like to be managed?
• What do you like to do outside of work?
• What type of culture or environment do you work best in?
• What did you find most challenging about your current role?
• Which job did you enjoy the most and why?
• What does ‘teamwork’ mean to you?
• What was your reason for leaving your last role?
"On the back of a long term relationship with our business spanning more than 10 years, Maree has facilitated the placement of 2 senior people into our finance team over the last 12 months. In doing so, Maree has spent time deeply understanding the companies requirements and in doing so, has shortlisted quality candidates for discussion ensuring time was not wasted interviewing potential candidates clearly not aligned to what we were searching for. We have used the Accountancy Connect team extensively over the last 10 years and will continue to do so in the future."

Peter, Financial Controller, Construction industry