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CBI interview questions

Career advice

To get to the motivations and working style of a potential employee, employers often turn to behavioural interviewing, an interviewing style which consists of a series of probing, incisive questions. This may sound a little intimidating; however with some preparation you can feel confident before the interview.

These questions are referred to as Competency Based Interview questions. Below we discuss step-by-step on how to approach these questions.



How to approach Competency Based Questions

Competency based interview questions are used to identify whether an individual has the competencies required for a role. It is the most objective way to assess how you will demonstrate a competency in the future, is to assess how you have demonstrated competencies in the past.

One of the most common interview techniques used to test for competencies is called the STAR technique. Try use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result) to answer questions.


Firstly describe a situation you were in.  For example, a colleague was struggling with performance. 


Next tell them what you decided to do. For example, sit down with your colleague to discuss how you could help.


Then describe what you actually did. For example, gave your colleague examples of how you improved your own performance.


Finally, tell them what happened as a result of your actions. For example, performance improved 35 per cent.

Common questions

  • Tell me about a situation where you have been part of a group working toward a specific goal. What was your role in the group?

  • Describe how you led a team through a difficult project. How did you improve their work?

  • On time pressured assignments, how have you made sure that the job is done within budget?

Questions are asked to establish various core competencies relevant to the role, such as teamwork, creativity, innovation, decision making ability, business awareness and conflict resolution.  

Re-read your CV

Review the job description in order to identify the competencies the organisation is looking for. For each core competency try to think of specific examples of times when you have demonstrated those behaviours, do not prepare specific responses as this is will mean you may provide answers that do not fully answer the question.

Drive for results

This competency assesses your personal motivation and how you approach challenges.

Example interview questions:

  • What achievement are you most proud of?

  • Tell me about a time when you have “made things happen” for yourself or your team?


Your ability to communicate effectively and influence others to act in support of your own and team goals will be examined. An ability to adapt your communication methods depending on situations and individuals is important here.

Example interview questions:

  • Can you give an example of a time you influenced a colleague to adopt your way of thinking?

  • Has there been a time when you had to communicate a difficult issue? 

Planning and organising

This competency analyses your ability to plan and manage activities and projects.

Example interview questions:

  • Have you ever had to plan a large piece of work?

  • It is a busy day with conflicting priorities and deadlines, what do you? 

Customer Focus

Your ability to understand and believe in the importance of customer focus will be tested here. You must display a competency for understanding the difference between internal and external customers.

Example interview questions:

  • Can you describe a time where you dealt with an angry or upset customer in the past?

Influencing or persuading others

Strong verbal skills are one thing, but being able to influence another person to change their thinking or take some action is as important. Can you influence a colleague to change or a client to buy?

Example interview questions:

  • Is there a time where you were able to change another person’s viewpoint?

  • Can you give an example of a time where you were asked to do something you disagreed with?

Interpersonal and team skills

Many workplaces function on the basis of project teams. If you are highly collaborative and co-operative, you are most likely to thrive in this type of environment.

Example interview questions:

  • What skills and personal qualities have you contributed to the teams you have been part of?

  • Who is the most difficult person you have had to deal with? 

Problem solving and decision making

Decision making is a skill that requires the ability to process information and filter this information to ensure you produce a sound and valid decision. You should be able to provide examples of situations where this skill has been tested. Use examples where an obvious answer is not immediately apparent.

Example interview questions:

  • What difficult decisions have you had to make in the recent past?

  • Have you made any decisions that have ultimately been unpopular?