How to prepare for technical competency interview questions

Interviews at NRC include both technical and behavioural-based competency questions. Technical Competency questions are likely the types of questions that you are most familiar with. They assess the depth and breadth of your knowledge, skills or abilities in a particular area.

In order to prepare yourself, review the job description and competition poster available from the Human Resource Team responsible for the competition. Review the technical competencies listed. Think of different questions the interview panel could ask to assess each of the competencies. For example if the position requires "Knowledge of Project Management," you could anticipate that a question may be:

  • What are the key steps in managing a project? or
  • Name two common project management models and describe them.

Conversely, if the position requires the "Ability to manage projects" a question like this one may be asked:

  • Describe a recent project that you managed.

In this case you will likely want to go a step further and reflect on different projects that you managed and what your specific role was. You will want to be as specific as possible. The STAR principle can help you to fully explain your example:

  • Describe the Situation;
  • Give details on what you had to do - Tasks;
  • Give details on Actions you have taken;
  • Describe the outcome (or Result) of the situation.

As there are endless questions to assess competencies, the more questions you ask yourself, the better prepared you will be. Try to think of a variety of questions with different phrasing. You may find it beneficial to write out your answers.

In most cases the technical competency questions will not be provided beforehand. So during the interview, think about the example questions you prepared ahead of time and you should have plenty of relevant information to share with the interview panel. However, sometimes you may be given technical information to prepare ahead of time. If so, please ensure you review this information and arrive at the interview ready to share your complete response.
During the interview feel free to ask clarifying questions if you don't understand something that is asked of you. Keep in mind that your answers should be succinct and to the point, and that you should speak clearly. The interview panel may probe you if they require additional information.

Good luck!