A Graduate’s Guide – Competency Based Interviews thumbnail

A Graduate’s Guide – Competency Based Interviews

As part of an interview process for a Medical Sales vacancy, you can almost certainly expect a competency based interview.


What is competency-based interviewing?

Interviewers use competency-based questions to evaluate the skills and behaviours you are likely to demonstrate in the future.

You will be asked to give an example of a previous situation or task which led you to take a certain course of action.


What competencies should I prepare for questions to be asked around?

Typically, organisations will analyse a role by breaking it down into key competencies that will be utilised when working in the role.

Usually, Medical Sales positions will focus on the following:

  1. Teamwork

  2. Planning and Organisational skills

  3. Business and Customer Focus

  4. Initiative and Innovation

  5. Motivation and Drive for Results


The key to being successful in this type of interview, is preparation!


How to structure answers

The STARL technique is the recommended way to demonstrate your competencies. The STARL acronym stands for:

Situation    Needs to be a specific situation. Set the scene. Give the background information. When did it occur?

Task        What did you have to do and why?

Action        How did you approach the task? Why did you choose to take this action? You must be very specific when describing. Mention the competency here to address it.

Result        What happened as a result?

Learning    What have you learned from the experience? How have you applied this knowledge since? How can you apply this to a career in Medical Sales?


Consider the following when preparing

  • Answers should last between 30 – 45 seconds. They need to be kept succinct and precise.

  • Try to use different examples for most of the competencies.

  • Think of 2 or 3 different specific situations for each one and plan them out using the STARL format.

  • Ensure to set the scene. Remember that the interviewer is not familiar with the situation!

  • Ideal examples will be based on work experience and education.

  • Spend most of the time talking about the action which you took to achieve the result.


Common mistakes

  • Examples not being specific enough. You must talk about a particular situation, and not just say it is something you have done on multiple occasions.

  • Talking about what ‘we’ did. This is often not what the assessor is looking for. They want you to talk about what ‘I’ did. This is still relevant in teamwork examples too; they are interested to hear the action which you took as part of the team!

  • Using older examples. (Ideally, they will be from the last 12 months)

  • Not keeping to the STARL format and going off on a tangent, resulting in the answer taking longer than the recommended 30 – 45 seconds.


If you are a recent graduate looking to develop your career in the Medical Sales sector, give us a call on 0113 457 0777 or email graduates@evolvecouk.com to discuss how we can help you.

Evolve’s Graduate Programme is designed to help you every step of the way, from writing your CV, to helping you to prepare for interviews and to securing your first Medical Sales position!


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