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Competency interview questions

Competency questions are largely designed to find out how you use your strengths and overcome your weaknesses, how you work with others and manage the needs of patients and staff. They are largely dictated by the healthcare organisation, so they can vary depending on the employer and role being applied for. All the questions, however, enable you to draw on real-life examples. This assists in revealing the extent of your skills in areas where you will need to be competent in order to safely perform the role you have applied for. 



You are likely to be asked specifically about how you manage your workload.


You will need to draw upon real-life examples. This will be much more powerful than describing your appreciation for time management. An employer will be looking for indicators of how adaptable you are at meeting the needs of patients and how you deal calmly within the confines of the law. 

How do you inspire others within your team?


Being able to work well within a team is extremely important within all healthcare settings. Providing specific achievements will work better than simply making a statement. For example, saying “In my role, I successfully developed four of my staff to promoted posts within a year” provides more of an insight than saying “I am experienced at managing teams”. 

Can you tell me about the areas you need to develop?


is frequently asked. It’s an open question. The answer will very much depend on you as an individual, but you could talk positively about an area you are already knowledgeable or trained in and how you see your learning continuing in this field of work. This also provides you with a good opportunity to discuss your professional development.

How do you keep up to date with developments in your area of practice?


Everybody will have their own methods of keeping on top of developments within their field of work. Referencing current research will show your appreciation for how this could influence your practice. Identify literature reviews and specific trials/projects relating to your area of expertise. You could also give an example of how your practice has previously been enhanced by employing an evidence-based approach to your work. 

Conflict management is also an area of competency.


You could be asked to recall a time where you were unable to deal with a difficult member of your team, and how you managed the situation. Be prepared to explain how you arrived at a positive outcome. 

Competency questions can of course take many different formats but if you have an example to give for each of the areas below, you’ll be as prepared as you can be:

  • Where you’ve led on a piece of work and how you guide and enthuse others
  • When you’ve managed an aggrieved patient/family member
  • How you coped and adapted to change in the workplace
  • When you made a mistake or things didn’t go to plan.
  • How you used a non-conventional method and the challenges you faced
  • When you delegated responsibility 
  • How you drove a team through change (if applying for a managerial role)