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Placement Drop-in Session 3

Covering letters and application forms part 2 - answering competency based questions and evidencing your skills

Jessica Flack

on 20 January 2014

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Transcript of Placement Drop-in Session 3

Competency Based Questions
Covering Letters & Application Forms Part 2

Answering competency based questions
& evidencing your skills

Placement Drop-in Session 3
Covered today:
Answering competency based questions and evidencing your skills for covering letters and application forms
So, you know that generally companies will have a set of competencies that they expect all of their staff to exhibit?

Competency based questions are formed around these set competencies e.g team-working, drive and ambition etc.
Competency-based Questions
Example: Use the STAR technique to answer the following question:

Q. Discuss a time when you had to use effective problem solving skills
In more detail, this is:

give a brief description of the specific situation

what was your specific task, responsibility or challenge?

how did you tackle the task, remember to highlight YOUR role and value

what was the outcome? Were you pleased? Feedback? What did you learn?
Some typical application processes.....
CV only
CV & covering letter
Application form (online or hard copy)
Application form & CV
Sometimes, employers will also ask you to provide a portfolio e.g. coding evidence
Next session:
Placement Drop-in Session 4 - Interviews and Assessment Centres
Wednesday, 19th February, 9-11.30 pm, A220
What to do next:
Q. How do you answer competency based questions?
A. Use the STAR technique?Which is....
Situation: As part of a group assignment at University, we were asked to design a website and a back-end database.

Task: The website required certain functionality, however as a group, our web development skills weren't as good as they needed to be.

Action: We discussed possible solutions as a group, and I put myself forward to learn HTML and PHP to a higher level through self-study as I was the strongest technically, this meant I had to manage my time effectively and assign other elements of the assignment to the rest of the group.

Result: My assigning tasks based on strengths we created a website and database that was on spec and that we were all very happy with. I have learned that I can do anything when I put my mind to it and that I work effectively under pressure.

You can use the STAR technique for answering competency based questions in covering letters, application forms and interviews.

In a covering letter/application form you might choose to demonstrate that you have a skill by providing details of a scenario that demonstrates that skill by writing about the Situation, Task, Action and Result.

Answering questions at interview is a similar process.
Practice Activity:
You can either apply what you've learned about the STAR technique to a covering letter or application form you are completing for a live placement...


Answer one of the competency based questions that we have provided using the STAR technique.
Understanding and discussing your strengths...
Formatting your covering letter
Remember your PDIT Skills Map?

Use your map to identify and discuss your strengths. Try using the STAR technique to do this
What if you don't have all of the requirements/competencies the company asks for?
This mainly occurs with technical skills so...
Look at skills that are similar e.g. Company wants Python - but you have studied Java and HTML.

Write about what you CAN do, give an example of your willingness to learn.
You can practice doing this now if you like... see skills map copies.
Have a go at writing a covering letter/application form and feel free to ask your PDIT tutor to check it for you.
Full transcript