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About Competency Based Interviews

Posted on: 24 Jul 02


Increasingly, companies are opting for a formalised, objective structure as a means to standardise the interview process. To a certain extent, this allows all candidates an equal opportunity to presen
Increasingly, companies are opting for a formalised, objective structure as a means to standardise the interview process. To a certain extent, this allows all candidates an equal opportunity to present their abilities and skills in line with the specific requirements of the position being sought. Competency based interviews focus on 'core-skills' i.e. those specific skills or behaviours that constitute success within a given role. Each competency will be assessed for a requisite amount of time (usually 20 minutes), with the interviewer asking a standard set of focused questions. The interviewer is looking for specific, solid evidence that the candidate demonstrates the particular competency being assessed. It is usual practice for a score to be allocated for each competency examined during the interview, with the total score serving as a measure of objectivity. As follows are some general tips:
  • Don’t give general examples
  • Be as specific as possible
  • The interviewer will examine your examples in more detail, asking a series of probing questions. In view of this it is important to use good, solid examples, within which you are able to recall as much detail as possible · It is perfectly acceptable to use examples from your personal life, as well as from your professional activities
  • It is vital that you are prepared and have considered the core competencies and suitable examples before your actual interview The main competencies that are often examined within interviews for Medical Sales positions are as follows:
  • Sales ability / Persuasiveness
  • Drive for results
  • Planning and organisation
  • Teamwork
  • Customer service Other competencies include:
  • Self development / ability to learn
  • Change orientation / flexibility / stress tolerance
  • Problem solving / initiative
  • Business acumen
  • Presentation skills There are others, but these are the main ones that you will encounter. As long as you have taken the time to consider what your interviewer is looking for and have mentally prepared an armoury of suitable, credible examples, then you are on the road to success. Lets now look at the main competencies in a little more detail: Sales Ability / Persuasiveness Fundamental to Medical Sales is the ability to effectively promote your particular product. Therefore, an understanding of the basic sales process is a good starting point, along with recognition of customer needs. At a basic level it is important to demonstrate, via specific evidence that you are able to present a logical case or argument and via an understanding of the needs of your customer, to highlight those features and benefits most suited to the occasion. Example questions:
  • Can you give an example of a time that you have sold an idea, concept or product by identifying a particular need, issue or concern in the mind of the person you are selling to?
  • Can you talk me through the last occasion on which you presented a persuasive argument to another person or can you describe the last sales call that you made?
  • Was there ever time, whilst selling a product or idea, where you adapted your approach to suit the person you were selling to?
  • Describe a time when you could not persuade someone to your point of view?
  • What is the most difficult sales situation that you have ever encountered? Drive for results This competency is a key to excellence in sales and relates to an individuals motivation and capacity to strive to achieve or exceed targets. When the chips are down and you are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, do you quit or overcome? Do you have the strength of character and determination to always see a solution and to always persist? Example questions:
  • Talk me through a time when you have had to work towards a challenging, ambitious objective.
  • Has there ever been a time where you have had to work harder and longer to ensure that a time deadline was met?
  • When was the last time that you were called upon to do more than would normally be expected of you?
  • What do you like least about your current role?
  • What do you feel is the greatest challenge in your current role? Teamwork Together everyone achieves more. Teamwork is all about synergy and partnership. It encompasses the ability to see the bigger picture and to work outside of the confines of our own selfish motives. Teamwork requires an understanding of the dynamics of people, their personalities, their particular motivations and needs. There is no 'I' in the word team! Example questions:
  • Tell me about the last time that you had to work as part of a team to achieve a specific outcome.
  • Whilst part of a team has there ever been a time where you witnessed conflict?
  • Describe a time when a colleague or friend has annoyed you.
  • Have you ever had to modify your approach to take account of someone else's views?
  • Can you recall a time where you have needed to offer constructive feedback to a friend or colleague? Customer Service Attention to detail and taking the time to understand the needs of your customers is often the extra polish that converts average to excellent. Some people naturally go out of their way to deliver that extra service and take personal responsibility to ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction. Example questions:
  • What do you dislike most about dealing with people or customers?
  • Has there ever been a time that you have dealt with personal criticism relating to a service that you have delivered?
  • Describe an instance where you have delivered more than is expected of you
  • Have you received praise relating to the levels of service that you have delivered? Planning and Organisation If you fail to plan, then you are 100% planning to fail. In business as in sport, if you have no goals, you are sure to loose. A common denominator of all outstanding sales professionals is their attention to the planning process, followed by constant monitoring and adjustment. Example questions:
  • When was the last time that you had to take on extra work at short notice?
  • How do you manage your own time and objectives?
  • When was the last time that you had to work to a particularly tight deadline?
  • How do you determine your priorities?
  • How do you monitor the progress of projects or tasks? It is likely that some small talk and agenda setting will precede the above competency style questioning. Many interviewers will then employ your curriculum vitae as a starting point, perhaps taking five or ten minutes to discuss relevant parts of this important document. Always have spare copies of your CV with you and ensure that you are fully aware of its content and can further substantiate any questions asked. It is a good idea to view your CV through the eyes of your interviewer, whilst considering the logical questions that might be asked. Are there any gaps or sections of your CV that might instigate a negative perception? Generally, competency interviews last for 2 hours. Some candidates find them intense, whilst others find them quite invigorating. All tend to find the process to be a useful and enlightening experience. Whether you agree with them or not, competency interviews are instrumental to current recruitment protocol and are proving highly effective for those companies employing them. Enter into the spirit of them, use them as a development exercise and learn from any feedback that is offered. Wishing you success Jeremy Tromans
  • Jeremy Tromans

    Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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