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5 Competency based interview questions and answers for PAs

After applying for different jobs as a PA, landing an interview is certainly something to sing and dance about. However, thinking about how to answer some of the trickier, competency-based interview questions may have quite the opposite effect…

These days employers are inundated with job applications. Therefore, you have to be prepared to sell yourself and stand out from the crowd.

Doing your homework will ensure you know how to answer competency based interview questions with ease. We share 5 competency based interview questions and answers every PA should prepare for.

5 Competency based interview questions and answers for PAs

job interview

Most interviews follow a competency-based framework which tests one’s previous experiences as an indicator of future performance in a job.  For this reason, it’s important you practice using the STAR technique when you prepare for a job interview. STAR is an acronym for four key concepts – Situation, Task, Action and Result. Using the STAR technique to structure your answers to competency based interview questions will help you showcase your behaviour, achievements and of course, your competency for the role.

Read our 5 competency based interview questions for PAs, and how to answer them:

1. What have been your most significant achievements so far?

Mixing a business and personal achievement together when answering this competency based question is a great approach, and you’ll not only have the opportunity to reveal a bit more about who you are as person, but also toot your horn. Be creative, and prepare a list of some significant achievements you can bring to the table. These can be anything from securing your first mortgage to working your way up within a company from an entry level position.

2. Can you give me an example of a positive change that you have made within an organisation?

When answering this competency based interview question, remember to provide an example that shows you in the best light, but don’t spend 30 minutes describing the scenario. Keep your answers short, and more importantly, structured. For example, you could talk about a new system or process you introduced to manage you Director’s time more effectively. Remember to follow the Situation, Task, Action and Result steps so your example remains straightforward and really packs a punch.

3. Can you give me an example of a time you have worked with a difficult person and how you dealt with the situation?

Most PAs will be asked about their people management skills in a competency based interview. In your answer, you should aim show that you dealt with the situation yourself (rather than referring it to HR). Remember, with any negative questions make your answers as positive as possible and demonstrate how you have risen above the situation through learning from it. It also doesn’t hurt to inject some humour to show that this person you worked with previously has not affected your self-esteem or resilience.

4. Can you give me an example of a complex task you have worked on and how you ensured its success?

This is a great question and deserves an answer that really makes you stand out from the crowd. PAs have to deal with complex tasks all the time, so use something that will relate to the role that you are applying for. When answering competency based interview questions about complex tasks, you could refer to previous experience in organising difficult travel plans, for example.

5. Can you give me an example of how you have handled multiple priorities?

The answer to this competency based interview question, you should clearly articulate the competencies required to handle multiple priorities such as flexibility, dealing with tight deadlines, working with multiple personalities, time management and coping with pressure. Again, it is well worth having one or two examples that you use to demonstrate these abilities because they will undoubtedly come up in an interview for a PA role.

Now that you’ve read our competency based questions and how to answer them, it’s time to line up some job interviews and put your knowledge to practice. This is where we come in! 

Let Search Executive PA help you land your next job interview

Whether you’re seeking a new role supporting a Chief Executive, or fancy the prospect of working with multiple Directors, our team of Consultants will be on hand to support you in every step of the job application and interview process.