For many learners, their apprenticeship will be their first insight into the working world, which is why it’s important they are prepared for their interview. During any interview, you’re likely to get asked some competency-based questions. These types of questions are designed to help the employer determine if you can do the job and gain some real examples of times where you’ve put your skills into practice.

The good news is, even if you don’t have work experience in the areas they ask you, you’ve probably still got examples of a time where you have shown these skills, whether this is through academia or day-to-day life.

How do I tell if I’m being asked a competency-based question?

The interviewer will normally ask for examples of a time you experienced of demonstrated a certain skill, usually these questions are worded: ‘Describe a time when…’ or ‘Give me an example of a situation where…’

There are a few key competencies you’re likely to encounter during an interview, employers are looking for a positive approach to work and how you might adapt to certain situations, so show yourself off, this is your chance.

What are some of the key competencies they might ask about?

  • Flexibility
  • Managing conflict
  • Problem-solving
  • Integrity
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Resilience
  • Creativity

Read the Job Description

These are just some of possible skills you may be asked. One way of preparing for them is reviewing the job description carefully, if you’re going to be working to tight deadlines for example, they may as you to give an example of when you managed your workload effectively. For graduates this is an easy one as you’ve likely spent three years juggling multiple projects at once whilst working with both groups and alone.


Once you’ve thought of a few scenarios you might be able to use, it’s best to plan how you can apply them to the STAR technique. The STAR technique refers to Situation, Task, Action, Result. Thinking in this way allows you to explain your example clearly and forces you to think of an impressive result to end each answer on.

It’s all about you

This interview is about you and how you will help this company, when you’re giving answers make sure you focus on you. Try to highlight your achievements not the work of everyone else on your team, we’re not saying steal their thunder – but try and stick to your actions not those of the wider team.

Don’t rush

During interviews, especially if you’re nervous, it can be tempting to rush through answers to get to the end of the interview. Try not to do this, instead taking time to process the question and think clearly about an example that really demonstrates well how you did something.

Interviewers aren’t going to be annoyed if you take a minute to think through an answer, it’s not about how quickly you answer with competency-based questions, it’s about how good and relevant your example was to their question.

Remember, interviews can be scary but try to remain as calm as possible, the more you prepare the calmer you will feel. Interviews aren’t a test, they are a chance for the interviewer to get to know you in person, not from your CV and see if you fit their role.

You have nothing to worry about if you have taken the time to prepare for your interview, so try to relax and good luck!

Have you read our other blogs?

My role as a digital marketing apprentice

Using an eportfolio for your apprentices

My role as an admin apprentice