Insightlink Home

Employee Surveys Blog

How to Ace a Skills-Based Interview

Posted by Insightlink on 01/07/19

Recruiters are at a uniquely privileged time when it comes to finding the right person for the job, and the reason is the relatively new form of interviewing candidates, which is based solely on competencies and skills. In the past, job interview questions sought to elicit a general picture of the person’s strengths and weaknesses, typically delving into past responsibilities. These days, skills-based interviews allow us to go beyond the basics, honing in on precise skills already demonstrated by candidates in past jobs or in their academic life. Skills-based job interviews work because they are objective and predictive. They essentially bring a candidate to a specific time in the past in which they demonstrated core competencies such as teamwork, conflict resolution, goal achievement, and so on.

Determining the Core Competencies for a Job Post

Because skills-based job interviews are so precise, candidates should have the chance to know the skills they will be asked about, beforehand. Your job posting should list all competencies required. For instance, if you are interviewing someone for a nursing position, you may list down record keeping, catheter care, preparing blood transfusions, etc in the skills section of the posting. If the job is in project management, core competencies may include decision making, strategy development, team management, technical competence, and execution. These competencies will help you narrow down your list of candidates and let you know which interviewees match the competencies the job requires. Top candidates will present you with professional looking resumes that list down specific skills. Their CV will serve as a useful guide for the questions you want to ask.

Example Questions in a Skills-Based Interview

In the jobs mentioned above, a question for a nurse might be, “Tell me about a time that record keeping was a challenge in the previous clinic you worked at.” As for the potential project manager, you might ask, “Tell me about a time that the project went beyond budget. How did you deal with this and what did you learn from the experience?” These questions are difficult to answer because they are so precise, but a well-prepared candidate will have thought up examples for each core competency or skill listed in the job posting. If a candidate gets stuck in one question, simply ask another question regarding the same competency. Remember that candidates will not always have been through the exact scenarios you are questioning them about.

Knowing the STAR Method

Well prepared candidates will usually answer your questions using the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation (the candidate will describe the situation in which they had to demonstrate the skill), Task (what were they called upon to do), Action (what action did they take to solve the problem), and Result (were they successful? If not, how did they use what happened to change their future roles, goals, or procedures?). The method is useful but not absolutely necessary; if the candidate simply states the problem and the action they took, you can follow up your question by delving deeper into their thoughts about what occurred and how the situation could be fixed.

Remember Your Main Aim

Honesty is something you should look out for in your candidates; it is a ‘soft skill’ that is actually key when it comes to working in a team. If you ask a candidate about a time they failed to make a sales goal, they delivered a project late, or they were part of a conflict at work, the key isn’t to receive a brilliantly studied answer; it is to see how they reacted to challenges. Candidates don’t have to be perfect. They have to show a willingness to learn from mistakes, create a new strategy for the future, and view all setbacks in a positive, growth-focused manner.

Competency-based interviews are a great way to really get to know your candidate before making a decision. When conducted well, you can end an interview knowing a candidate inside-out, which will help you make a much more confident decision. Make sure to list down competencies you will be asking about in the job posting. This type of interview can be stressful for candidates, and you want them to be relaxed so they can show you who they really are and what they are capable of.

From an employee engagement perspective, matching the right person to the right job increases the likelihood your new employee will be satisfied and engaged while at the same time,  this type of interview gives prospective employees the chance to get to know you better as well. 

About Insightlink:
Insightlink Communications is a leader in full service employee surveys and offers a range of employee survey products and services to fit their client's needs. With over 18 years of experience, Insightlink's reputation has been built on giving organizations the knowledge they need to create effective change using their acclaimed employee research, analytics, benchmarking and survey methodologies. Insightlink's expertise in data collection reporting and analytics takes the pressure off organizations that find data overwhelming and daunting creating reports that are digestible and understandable, simple and easy to understand for organizations of any size and experience level. For more information please contact us at 866-802-8095 ext 705 or visit our website here.




comments powered by Disqus

Employee engagement is linked to profits
Employee Survey Demo
Employee Survey Pricing

Where does your company stand on each of the critical "4Cs" of employee engagement and satisfaction?
  • Commitment
  • Culture
  • Communications
  • Compensation
Find out with a benchmarked and validated 4Cs Employee Survey from Insightlink. Since 2001, one of the most trusted research companies in North America.

How many of each do you have?
  • Committed Loyalists
  • Change Seekers
  • Dissatisfied Compromisers
  • Satisfied Opportunists
Only the Insightlink 4Cs Employee Survey can give you the full picture and let you hear how your employees feel about their experience at your organization.


Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.

4Cs Blog Home

4Cs Blog Archives

Recent Posts

Why Friendships at Work Matter for Employee Engagement

Elevating Employee Engagement: Financial Training for a Happier, More Productive Workforce

5 Reasons Why LinkedIn Will Revolutionize Recruiting Process

Connectivity and Collaboration: Building a Strong Business with Remote Staff

What is an Employee Survey? Are They Important in 2024?

Favorite Links

Employee Survey
Insightlink's Acclaimed 4Cs Employee Survey

Advanced Online Survey Platform for Pros

Quick & Easy Online Surveys

Home of the Gallup Q12

World at Work


Insightlink on SHRM

Engaged Employees Blog

HR ToolKit Guide to Employee Surveys
Good info on how to write surveys.

Insightlink 360
Makes 360 assessment surveys easy.

Online Employee Exit surveys.


Copyright © Insightlink Communications. All rights reserved.