We use competency-based interviews as part of the recruitment process for all our roles. The following information will help you understand the competency-based interview structure in preparation for either a telephone or face-to-face interview.
What are competencies?
Competencies define how we can work effectively at SIS to successfully perform in our jobs. They focus on behaviours rather than skills, knowledge or abilities. Our competencies sit under the three themes of FUTURE, PEOPLE and DELIVERY, all of which are critical to the delivery of our strategies and goals.
Competencies help us understand the on-the-job behaviours needed to succeed at work. As competencies are observable behaviours, they help us to be more objective about our own and other people’s abilities, performance, and development needs.
You can find a brief description of the competencies below.
These competencies apply to campaigns launched on or after 1 September 2023.
Seeing the big picture
I understand how my goals support and align with other teams and organisational objectives. I recognise wider priorities and ensure work is in the national interest.
Driving innovation and change
I seek out opportunities for experimentation and suggest ideas for change and improvement. I review and adapt ways of working to prepare for the future, including seeking and providing feedback.
I prioritise continuous learning and development for myself, others and the organisation. I recognise different contributions and embrace all learning, even when things do not go as planned.
Communicating and influencing
I engage and listen to the perspectives of others, respecting their needs, responses and opinions. I make sure I understand others and am prepared to adapt. I communicate purposefully with clarity, integrity and empathy.
I develop effective partnerships and relationships internally and externally, seeking out a range of diverse perspectives, sharing information, resources and support generously.
I show pride in my organisation’s work and role model our values. I create, engage and empower others to deliver a shared vision. I value equality, diversity and inclusion, ensuring fairness and opportunity for all.
Making effective decisions
I use data, evidence and knowledge to support advice and transparent decision making, taking account of compliance standards. I consider alternative options and consult others. I recognise bias and the implications and risks of decisions.
I take responsibility for delivering timely and high-quality results with agility, focus and drive. I plan, review and adapt my approach to meet priorities.
Providing customer value
I form an understanding of customers and manage their requirements. I deliver with professional excellence, expertise and efficiency, taking account of diverse needs and expectations.
What should I expect during an interview?
A competency-based interview is timed and structured and comprises specific questions relating to each competency area being assessed. The interviewer selects the most important competencies for the job and asks you for specific examples of your past behaviour in relation to each of them.
The interviewer will want to learn about your past situations. So instead of asking how you feel about working in a team, you’ll be asked to talk about actual examples of working in a team.
You will typically have around five to ten minutes per question. During that time, the interviewer will ask the initial question followed by a series of probing questions to gather all the information they need.
"Tell me about a situation where it was important that you worked as part of a team."
- “What was the situation?”
- “What part did you play in the team?”
- “What difficulties did you encounter and how did you approach these?”
- “What have you learned from this experience?”
How do I prepare?
1 - Check key skills on job listings
Unfortunately, we can't tell you exactly which competencies we are assessing at the interview. However, spend some time looking at the key skills that are listed in the job advert and on the website.
2 - List key words and phrases and provide examples from work
List key words and phrases and, for each one, think of two or three examples from your previous work experience where you used your skills to achieve a positive result and what you learnt from the experience.
3 - If you don't have work experiences, you can pull from school or personal life
If you do not have work-related experience, use examples from school, sport, voluntary work, hobbies or even your personal life. Use recent examples where you can remember lots of detail about what you did and why.
4 - STAR is a useful mnenomic to structure answers
Situation: Define the context.
Task: What were your aims?
Action: What did you do and why?
Result: What was the outcome of your actions? Use "I" rather than "we" so we can get a clear picture of your own role.
- Be yourself, we want to get to know you.
- Listen attentively and take your time when answering questions.
- It's okay to ask the interviewer to repeat a question or check your understanding of what's being asked.
- Don’t be distracted by the interviewer taking notes, it’s their job to accurately record the interview.
- Telephone interviews are just as important as face-to-face interviews.