7 tips for how to complete an excellent competency based application form

You’re applying for your dream job but they want you to fill in a seemingly endless competency based application form.  Once you get past the usual information requests for you to detail your work experience and education you see a number of additional competency questions.  They are usually prefaced with the following:

“In the spaces below, briefly describe what you consider to be a good example of demonstrating your ability in each of following competency areas”

Here are 7 tips to make sure your completed competency based application form hits the mark and gets you an interview.

1. Read their competency definition – and reflect it back in the answers on your Competency Based Application Form

Most employers will first state the competency they want you to provide evidence of – eg Evaluating Information and Problem Solving and then give you a brief definition of how that is demonstrated in the role.  Use their definitions as a guide to help you decide what example from your own work experience will fit best for proving each competency.

2.  Structure each answer with the STARR (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection) to stay focused

Situation/Task: the nature of the task, problem or objective
Action YOU took: what you did and how you demonstrated this competency or skill
Result and Reflection: the outcome or result of the situation and, if possible a brief reflection on what you learned from this experience

3. Use numbers and statistics to prove you made an impact. Just claiming you made a contribution doesn’t  prove you did.

For example: Which of these two statements below , A or B, gives you better evidence that I can show initiative to improve the efficiency of my department

Answer A
A:  “Once I had completed the health and safety audits and delivered the training to the team there was a significant decrease in the amount of safety breaches reported.   In addition the team commented that they felt much more informed on how to deal with potential hazards.”
Answer B 
B:  “Once I had completed the 3 health and safety audits over a 3 month period and delivered the training to a team of 20 machine operators and 25 delivery agents I measured the effectiveness of my safety initiative. There was a 35% reduction in the amount of safety breaches reported”

A is too general – avoid using generic descriptions like “much more informed” or “significant decrease”.
B is preferable as the reader can get a much better sense of the impact your intervention made to the situation.

4. Use different situations for each competency question.

Don’t be tempted to use the same situation to prove you have two different skills or competencies.  They will want to see different ones.

5. Don’t go back too far

Where at all possible try to keep your examples recent and don’t go back more than 3-4 years.

6. Use the allocated word count

Use as close as possible to the full allocation of what is allowed.  Just using half of it may indicate to the employer that you are not really that interested in the role.  And don’t go over the word count.

7.  Know your examples

Many employers state on the application form that you are allowed to take your completed competency based application form into your interview – for reference.  DON’T ! It will be distracting for your and won’t look good to your interviewers.  Take the time before the interview to review your application form and be familiar with what you wrote

Hilt has helped 100’s of clients to write excellent  Competency Based Application Forms to get them an interview

Contact us for details.

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