Why competence is a door-opener

Apr 10, 2015

What you need to know about demonstrating competence in an interview

As a graduate looking for your first job you may not have much in the way of experience but if you have competence and can demonstrate it, you stand a very good chance of finding favour in the eyes of employers.

People who search for interview coaching services to get help to prepare for an interview really simply need support in demonstrating that they are competent.

Competency describes a set of behaviours that if practiced will enable a person to do a job well. It is made up of your skills, knowledge, abilities and attributes and this is why during job interview coaching a person will be encouraged to focus on these areas. Employers are concerned with the identification, evaluation and development of these key areas that make up your level of competency.

Currently, we are seeing a move among those recruiting into the financial services industries where in order to plug a skills shortage gap they are taking on people without experience but bag loads of competency. Apparently, 97 percent of financial services companies face challenges when sourcing skilled accountancy professionals and so in order to meet this growth in demand companies look for non-accountants with ‘the right commercial acumen’ and transferable experience.

Competency doesn’t mean you are an expert in performing the task because it also allows room for personal growth and development.

This is because competencies for a graduate job position need to be flexible enough to allow both a person with a low level of experience to enter the position and as well as someone who has a bit more experience.

The more experienced the person is the more they will know how and when to break the rules in the process of carrying out a task on the job. Breaking the rules doesn’t mean being reckless or doing your own thing but the confidence to carry out the role ‘your way’. A competent person will know how to perform the task and also have a set of actions to choose from when they come up against challenges. Say for example, you have competing deadlines or delays or you are staring into the face of an irate customer demanding immediate action – the more developed your competencies the more you will be able to respond to changing and competing needs.

Since your competencies are determined by your skills, knowledge, abilities and attributes you need to ensure you understand how to sell all of these areas on your CV and during your job interview.

Most job descriptions will include a list of the tasks that you need to be competent at performing and will use evidence of past experience to measure whether you have the required competencies. This experience can be transferrable, meaning you can carry over experience from outside of the position or industry itself.

It is interesting that in business a company’s core competencies are defined by the set of behaviours that mark out that company’s strategic strength. As an individual it can help to think about this in the same way – that your competencies will reflect your strength. The word competency incorporates the word compete and sharpening it certainly will enable you to compete against other candidates.

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