How Competency Based Interview Questions Are Marked?

Before the interview, the interviewers will have determined which type of answers would score positive points and which types of answers would count against the candidates. For example, for questions such as "Describe a time when you had to deal with pressure", the positive and negative indicators may be as follows:

Positive indicators Negative indicators
  • Demonstrates a positive approach towards the problem.
  • Considers the wider need of the situation
  • Recognises his own limitations
  • Is able to compromise
  • Is willing to seek help when necessary
  • Uses effective strategies to deal with pressure/stress
  • Perceives challenges as problems
  • Attempts unsuccessfully to deal with the situation alone
  • Used inappropriate strategies to deal with pressure/stress

In some cases, negative indicators are divided into two further sections: minor negative indicators, i.e. those which are negative but which don’t matter so much; and decisive negative indicators i.e. those for which they won’t forgive you e.g. not asking for help when needed.

Marks are then allocated depending on the extent to which the candidate's answer matches those negative and positive indicators. Here is an example of a marking schedule for the table above:

  No evidence
No evidence reported
1   Poor
Little evidence of positive indicators.
Mostly negative indicators, many decisive
2   Areas for concern
Limited number of positive indicators.
Many negative indicators, one or more decisive.
3   Satisfactory Satisfactory display of positive indicators.
Some negative indicators but none decisive.
4   Good to excellent Strong display of positive indicators

If the interviewers feel that there are areas that you have failed to address, they may help you along by probing appropriately. For example, in answering the question above Describe an example of a time when you had to deal with pressure”, if you focussed on how you dealt with the practical angle of the problem but you forgot to discuss how you managed your stress during and after the event, the interviewers may prompt you with a further question such as “How did you handle the stress at the time?”. This would give you an opportunity to present a full picture of your behaviour. This is where the marking can become subjective. Indeed, if an interviewer likes you, he may be more tempted to prompt you and push you along than if he has bad vibes about you.