How to succeed in a banking competency interview

One common interview style within the banking and financial services industry is the competency-based interview. The interviewers will ask you to give an example of when you displayed a certain skill or behaviour (e.g. an example of when you have provided excellent customer service). This can feel like a somewhat awkward for the first time; however, if you follow these tips it’ll be a breeze!

  • In your invite to the interview the bank may specify which competencies they will ask you about. If they don’t, try to think about what skills and qualities they will be looking for in the banking role you’re going for. Either way make sure you do a bit of research on the job and the area that it is based. Will you be in direct contact with customers? What are the key demographics for the area? This will give you some ideas about what you will be talking about in the interview.
  • Structure your answers. Start by describing the situation that you were in—where, when, what job you were doing. Be specific and detailed throughout your answer. Then move on to describe the actions you took and the behaviours you displayed. You should spend about 70% of your time on this part of your answer. Finally wrap up your answer by detailing what the results of your actions were.
  • Use examples from previous jobs where possible however, if you don’t have much work experience it is perfectly fine to use examples from volunteer work, school or university. Make sure that these are recent examples (i.e. the past two years).
  • Make sure you talk about your actions and behaviours (i.e. say ‘I did this’ rather than ‘we did this’).
  • You can take notes into the interview with you and also make notes as you go through the interview.
  • Ask for a drink of water. No one is going to notice if you did or didn’t drink it. However if you get stuck for something to say when asked a difficult question, or you find your mouth is getting irritably dry, it’s a good excuse to take a sip. While it doesn’t buy you a great deal of time it does give you chance to pause and reflect on the question a few moments before you give an answer. There’s nothing wrong with asking if you could take a moment to have a think before giving your answer either!