As with any important meeting, preparation is key

As a senior candidate, the interview process can be very drawn out. Typically you will be meeting busy people with limited availability so be as flexible as possible when invited to attend an interview. If you progress through the stages it is highly likely you will have to attend between 3 and 5 interviews.

Before the interview

As with any important meeting, preparation is key. Research the company, the role and the interviewers. Practice and have answers prepared in advance. If you are interviewing through Ascension we will assist you with your preparation.

Competency-based interviews

Competency-Based Interviews are also known as ‘Structured Interviews’ or ‘Behavioural Interviews’. This format of interviewing is extremely popular. These interviews are made up of a number of targeted questions that require interviewees to describe specific tasks or situations.

They work on the belief that the best indication of future behaviour is past behaviour.

A useful way to remember how to structure your answer is under the mnemonic STAR.

(S/T) – Situation or Task. This is the introduction or opening information. Interviewees will describe the event. It is important to bring the event to life, so ensure you have clear examples ready.

(A) – Action. This is what you did, or the body of the story. It is where you provide details about the actions you took and how you behaved during the situation. It is important to avoid sweeping statements and to provide plenty of detail. The most common mistake at this stage is to use the word “We” instead of the word “I” when describing actions. Doing this will dilute your contribution.

(R) – Results. The final part of the technique where you state the results or outcomes of the situation. Another useful tip is to highlight your learning points from the event/situation at the time and how, if it was a negative event, you have made steps to prevent a reoccurrence.

Typically the interviewee will be assessed against a number of different competencies – normally between 4 to 6 competencies.

The categories of competency-based interviews include:

  • Organisation awareness
  • Strategic thinking
  • Innovation
  • Communication
  • Client Relationship
  • Leadership ability
  • Teamwork
  • Time management


Throughout your answers, highlight the key competencies that you used and ensure that they are matched to the key competencies required for the role; such as leadership, initiative, control, and adaptability.


Be as succinct as possible and know when to stop.


If the key competencies are not listed in the job specification, then you will need to find them yourself by looking at the duties required for the role, and then find the keywords used to describe these duties. If working within a team is mentioned a lot, then teamwork would be a core competency for example.