Are competency-based interviews a thing of the past?

I recently assisted a client with hiring a HR Business Partner and when chatting through the interview process and format, they mentioned that they prefer to conduct conversational type interviews rather than competency based interviews. This got me thinking, are competency based interviews a thing of the past? And is it better to have a more conversational style interview?

This was music to my ears, and the candidates’, as competency questions and answers can come across as rehearsed and unauthentic. Candidates and clients alike, like to get to know each other on a professional and personal level and by having a more conversational style interview can weed out any uncertainties and is a much more honest approach.

Having carried out some research on this, I came across two more personal styles of interviews that I think could be more current and suitable for today’s environment.


  1. Soft-Skill Assessments 

    Soft skills are the non-technical skills needed to do a job. Individuals with soft skills can work well with others, come up with new ideas, and thrive in their environment. Examples of soft skills include integrity, adaptability and communication. As recruiters, we have to find candidates who have both hard and soft skills, but soft skills can determine if the candidate will be a good fit for the position. In order to assess a candidates soft-skills, interviewers should ask behavioural interview questions, such as; Was there ever a time when you saw a co-worker do something wrong? What did you do? Hard skills are evident on a candidates CV but in order to really get to know the person then a soft-skill set assessment is the best way to go.


  1. Meeting in casual settings 

    We have seen an increase in this over the last few months, particularly due to Covid-19 as many offices are not open but employers would still like to meet a prospective employee in person. Arranging an interview in a more casual setting, like a café, might ease the candidates nerves so that they can explain their experience more clearly and won’t be as rehearsed and rigid. Casual settings also offer the benefit of giving clients a better sense of the candidates character and personality type. Just make sure to pick a place that doesn’t get too noisy whenever you’re having your interview!


As recruiters, I think we can all agree that individuals can over-think and over-rehearse for competency-based interviews. It can be a lose-lose situation for all involved as questions may be left somewhat unanswered and leave both parties wanting more.

I, personally, would welcome less formal interviews with open arms. It’s time for companies to refresh their interview process to become more current and fresh in order to attract the right candidates to the job, particularly in HR. HR is all about the people and softer skills, so why can’t interviews be like this too?