Competency Interview Questions



Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions in Order of Difficulty

Verbal and Written Communication

Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.

  • Tell me about a time when you did not communicate well. How did you correct the situation?

  • Describe a time when you effectively communicated something difficult to a supervisor.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to compose a message that provided ideas and supporting information.

  • Describe the most effective written document, report, or presentation you completed. What made it effective and why are your particularly proud of it?

  • Tell me about a time when you communicated technical or field-related information to individuals outside of your area of expertise.

  • Describe a time when you kept other individuals informed about projects or things that impacted their job or role.

  • Tell me about a time when you tailored your communication style or message to different audiences while maintaining your intended outcome?

Teamwork and Collaboration

Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a team. What was your role and how did you ensure you met your commitments to the team?

  • Tell me about at time when building a successful relationship was difficult. What strategies did you employ and what was the result?

  • Describe how you have contributed to your organization’s, department’s, or employer’s goals.

  • Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with the individual(s) involved to explain your actions.

  • Tell me about a time when you demonstrated valuing someone who had a different opinion than you.

  • Give an example of how you built and maintained a professional relationship.

  • Tell me about a time when you formed relationships with people outside your immediate area/department and contributed to an organization or company goal.


Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.

  • Tell me about the most successful group or team experience. What made it successful, and how have you worked to replicate that experience?

  • Describe a time when you built or helped build motivation or enthusiasm around a goal.

  • Give an example of a time when the result of listening to a team member resulted in solving a problem or achieving a goal.

  • Tell me about a time when you delegated work to others. How did you decide what to delegate to different individuals?

  • Describe a time when you helped a group capitalize on everyone’s strengths.

  • Tell me about a time when you encouraged discussion where individuals could express different points of view to develop a shared vision or achieve a common goal.

Equity & Inclusion

Demonstrate the attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in antiracist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism. 

  • Give a specific example of how you helped create an environment where differences are valued, encouraged, and supported.

  • What does equity and inclusion mean to you?

  • Was equity and inclusion valued at your past employer? If so, did you make an impact on this? 

  • Tell me an example of a time when you worked with or helped somebody of a different culture/background of you own.

  • Describe a time where you had to work with someone culturally, racially, or ethnically different from you and any challenge it may have created and how you dealt with the situation. 

  • Describe the value of having equity and inclusion within an organization and a time you have observed this value.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.

  • Tell me about a time when you were particularly effective at prioritizing tasks and completing a project on schedule.

  • Tell me about a time when you or a team you were on was caught off guard by an unforeseen problem or obstacle.

  • Describe a time when you came up with a creative or innovative solution to a problem.

  • Describe a situation where you had a number of alternatives to consider. How did you go about choosing one?

  • Describe a time when you made a suggestion to improve the work in an organization/company/etc...

  • Describe a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through and what was your reasoning behind your recommendation?


Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.

  • Tell me about how technology played a role in a previous experience. How did you feel about using the technology? What other technologies would have been helpful?

  • Tell me about a time when you sought out the opportunity to learn a new piece of software or tool. How did you become proficient using it?

  • Provide an example of when you had to change how you approached your work to adapt to using new technology. What were the challenges and opportunities the new technology brought to your work?

  • Describe a challenge you had in solving a technical problem. How did you solve it, and how did you know what software or tools you needed?

  • Tell me about a time when you approached your supervisor to recommend implementing new software or tools. What did you see as the pros and cons?

  • Describe a situation where you had to troubleshoot a problem.

  • Give an example of a time where you introduced someone else to a new technological approach to solving a problem.

Career & Self-Development

Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization. 

  • Tell me how your supervisor, professor, or advisor would describe you as a result of your time interacting with them.

  • Tell me about a time when you initiated a conversation to gain feedback from your supervisor, professor, or advisor.

  • What is something you have done in the past to contribute towards a positive work environment and how did you know it would be considered as positive?

  • What things have you done to become better qualified for your career?

  • Tell me about a time when you were under extreme pressure. How did you handle the situation?

  • Recall a time when you were less than pleased with your performance.

  • Tell me about a time when you tried to intentionally align your intended and perceived reputation by applying feedback from others.


Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image and demonstrates integrity.

  • On occasion we are confronted with peers being dishonest. Tell about such an occurrence and how you handled it.

  • Give a specific example of a time when there was no rule or precedent to help you attack a problem.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked in a situation where the rules and guidelines were not explicit. How did you accomplish the task and what things did you take into consideration that helped guide your decision-making process?

  • Give an example of how you have acted with integrity in a work environment.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to handle a tough problem which challenged fairness or ethical issues.

  • Describe a situation when you were in a moral or ethical dilemma.