The best way to present yourself at interview

When it comes to interview preparation it’s vital that you research you as fully as the company you are meeting. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it! You’d be surprised just how critical this is.

When you are asked a question in an interview you need to have that killer answer on the tip of your tongue, neatly packaged and ready to go.

It’s vital that you’re able to prove you’re up to the job. That’s why employers will test your key competencies at interview. You might be asked to give examples of times when you’ve used your abilities to solve problems, work as part of a team, impress a client or help others to grow.

If you were interviewing for this opportunity, what would you want to know from your prospective employee?

Make sure your examples have a beginning, middle and end. Briefly set the scene, explain your actions and then the outcomes. Be concise and don’t ramble.

We’re all familiar with the standard interview questions.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give standard, by-the-book answers. These familiar questions aren’t just a test of your competency. They’re an essential way of demonstrating your values and skills as well.

We’ve come up with a list of core competencies you might be questioned on:


Client Focus


Organisational Awareness

Problem Solving and Judgment

Results Orientation


Developing Others

Impact and Influence



Relationship Building

Resource Management


Strategic Thinking

But where do values and skills fit in? Come to think of it, how are they different from ‘competencies’? They’re all linked, but there’s a clear order of importance that helps to define the way we work – starting with values.


Values are qualities that embody your best ways of working. They are how you do business. They are how you communicate. They define you as a person. By giving future employers a hint at what you value the most, you’re giving them a clear insight into how you solve problems and communicate with other people, enabling them to get a better idea about how you might fit into their organisation.

For example, at royall our key values are:

Treating others the way you want to be treated



Open and Honest Communication



We place these things at the heart of what we do. So essentially while our competencies describe how we accomplish tasks, our values explain why. For example, leadership and teamwork abilities are ‘competencies’ — they relate to our ability to get things done. But we value things like fun, money, learning, autonomy, variety and challenge. It’s how we apply these values to our day-to-day tasks that really explains who we are.

Our values define us. Our competencies demonstrate our values in action.

We do something because we place value on it — we carry out a task in a certain way because our values give meaning to our goals. Being able to explain these values, and explain how we apply them to our day-to-day tasks gives potential employers a way to measure our drive and determination. In short, an ability to articulate your values will make you appear confident and forthright. In other words, you’ll be demonstrating yourself at your very best.


Competencies can be taught. Values are acquired through experience. So they’re clearly two different things. But what’s the difference between a competency and a skill? Sure, they’re both ways of explaining your ability to get the job done. But there’s one important difference. It’s possible to know how to do something and still feel unable or unwilling to do it. You might, for example, know how to skydive. But that’s not the same thing as being able to jump out of the plane.

Competence, therefore, is the mixture of having the skill and the ability to use it. It’s this that employers are looking for. It’s not as easy as simply reeling off a list. Employers don’t want to hear you tell them what you’re capable of. They want to see evidence that you’re able to apply those skills to real life situations.

For example, you might be asked a competency based question to determine your leadership skills:

What has been the biggest challenge to your leadership skills? How does this relate to leadership? What impact did this have on your leadership skills?

This is your chance to really shine. With a question like this, it’s easy to incorporate your values into your answer. Start by explaining the why before you get onto the how. Once you’ve explained your way of doing things, make sure your employer knows that your way get results. After all, that’s what you’ll be measured by.

Skills are the technical side of getting things done. They’re things like computer literacy or budget management. Naturally, they’re best explained by example. But if you can apply your values to how you get there, you’ll be giving your employer even more insight into how your personality makes you suitable for the job.

The Best Way To Present Yourself

Naturally, employers are looking for competence. But if you’ve got a good grasp of the underlying values, of the reasons why you work in a certain way, you’ll be able to better present yourself as a well-rounded, self-aware candidate with clearly defined goals, ambitions and personality.

The best way to get in touch with your values is to write them down when you’re going over your CV. What are your goals in life? What are your values in life at home and at work? Beside all the key competencies you’ll need to demonstrate for the job, write down your underlying motivation behind the development of your skills. Why is being able to communicate well important to you? Do you get a sense of satisfaction from working with a team? You’ll quickly find that you’ve got a set of values which you’ve been using in your day-to-day life every day.

Once you’ve got a better grasp of who you are and why you do what you do, you’ll be a much more confident and outgoing person. And that’s a skill that’ll last you through your entire career, not just at interview.

With literally hundreds of years (between us!) of interviews we’ve got loads of advice to give. Get in touch for more hints and tips. 01243 200077

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