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competency based interview questions

Profile for Rob Scott, Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment

Competency-based interview questions are designed to test candidates capabilities to carry out your role - requiring them to demonstrate how their previous experiences position them as an appropriate candidate. If you're still shortlisting candidates look at our tips on shortlisting.

We've made this guide on how to style your interview questions in a way that asks candidates to respond in a way that illustrates their experiences - or lack of. So here's how to make your sales recruitment campaign so much easier, by asking questions like these.


competency based interview questions


Structure for Competency Based Interview Questions

Your questions need to be worded so that they ask for the candidate to draw on previous efforts - so anything that begins with:

Can you give me an example of...

Can you describe a scenario when you have...

Or, as an example where the competency you would like to gather evidence upon is detailed to the interviewee, i.e:

"We now want to turn to Customer Service, can you detail a recent example of when you have delivered excellent customer service" and laddered with questions such as "what happened? What was the outcome?", etc.

Choosing whether or not to detail on a specific competency can help or hinder, depending on what you wish to know. If you choose not to, a candidate can show initiative by discussing experience relevant to the role - or reveal they lack it by relying on irrelevant histories. However, if the role is diverse, or the candidate has a lot of experience, defining the question parameters can allow you to dig into a candidates specific experience.

It's up to you to choose the best method, we've also included a list of example questions below:

We also offer resources for all aspects of interviewing candidates in our interview planning section.


Example Competency Based Interview Questions:

  • How are you a self-starter? Give me examples to demonstrate this?

  • Tell us about a time recently when you have had to deal with a difficult situation at work? What was the situation? Who were you communicating to? How did you go about it? What was the outcome?An Interview

  • Give an example of when you have made a decision that you didn't want to make? What happened? What was the message? Who were you communicating to? How did you go about it? What was the outcome?

  • Tell us about a crisis or unplanned event that happened and the response of your team? What made this incident a real crisis? What were your first thoughts? What specifically were you able to do to contribute to resolving the event?

  • Tell us about a training session you have designed and delivered. What preparation did you do? How did you decide on the content? How did you deliver the training? What was the result? How did you measure the impact of your training?

  • Tell us about a time when you have had to set standards? What standards did you set? What areas did you consider when setting the standards? What impact did the standards have on your business and/or relationships

  • Tell us about a time when you have been a role model to the team. How did you set an example to others? What impact did you have on others as a result of setting the example? What was others perception of you as a role model?

  • What behaviour will you have to change to succeed in this role? Why do you need to change this behaviour? How will you ensure you don't slip back into adopting this behaviour?

  • Tell us about a recent occasion when you were under pressure and handled it successfully. What caused it to be a pressurised situation? How did you approach it? What did you do specifically to ensure success? What have you learnt about handling pressurised situations?

  • Give me an example of when you've lied in the interests of your job? Would you do this again? What did you learn from the experience? Would you encourage others under you to lie in the interests of their job?

  • What were you selling? Who were you selling to? Describe the sales cycle and the value of your sale. What objectives and targets have been set in the last two years? What was your actual performance? What were your greatest achievements in this position? What did you like and dislike about this position? What have you learnt from this position and why?

  • Describe how you plan. How do you stick to the plan? What can possibly distract you from sticking to the plan?

  • How do you measure your own performance? How do you motivate and develop yourself? Give examples of how you lead when you personally are not successful? How did you maintain enthusiasm and energy?

  • How have you coped when you have felt anger at work or been in a conflict situation?

  • How have you handled criticism from one of your team members? How have you coped with a conflict situation with someone who reports to you?

  • What example can you give me of when you have been out of your depth? How did you cope?

  • How competitive would you say you are? Give me an example of your competitive nature? Have other factors motivated you to succeed?

  • When did you last experience a low point in your sales career? Describe what happened and how you overcame this challenge?

  • Give a recent example of when you've had to make a quick decision in response to a client problem? Who did you consult? Were you pleased with the final decision that you reached? Could you have made the decision yourself?

  • What initiatives have you deployed to ensure that your team meets their objectives and targets? How did you measure your team to ensure they meet the objectives and targets?

Example of a Competency Interview Form and Scoring Mechanism to Download

Good luck with your competency based interviewing and we hope that this short overview helps you to make the right hiring decisions.



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I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis’ services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

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Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

D. Richards, Candidate

Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles saught to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

L. Taylor, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

M. Green, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dawrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them

C. Caine, Candidate

Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!

J. Hathaway, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

M. Shutt, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

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