The COMPLETE guide to becoming a Mortgage Advisor in 2021

This blog is a definitive guide to becoming a Mortgage Advisor. Click on any of the sections to jump to that part of the blog.

Contents

What do Mortgage Advisors do?

Mortgage Advisors help their clients find the best mortgage deal for purchasing their homes, for many it will be their first time so you will assist them throughout the process. You will build relationships with various clients and learn about their circumstances to provide them with the best available deal. 

How much do Mortgage Advisors earn?

This answer can vary depending on whether or not a Mortgage Advisor earns a salary or is on a self-employed commission-only basis. For example, an average Mortgage Advisor salary will range from around £20,000 to £30,000 a year without commission on top of this, most Mortgage Advisors can expect on-target earnings (OTE) that far surpass this number. Some other reports on Mortgage Advisor salary:

Prospects: £22,000 to £25,000 “Mortgage Adviser basic starting salary. Commission may be paid on top of this. With a few years’ experience you can expect to earn in the region of £45,000 to £60,000, including commission. Highly experienced advisers can earn up to £70,000, including commission.”

Reed.co.uk: £49,676 “on average with low of £43,310 and high of £56,897 (however this may include salary and OTE or a mix of the two which may alter the numbers)”

Payscale: £26,289 “Salary with total coming in at £20k – £36k”

Indeed: £36,608 “(4.2k salaries reported, updated at 1 October 2021)”

Glassdoor: £32,454 “average base pay (low of £21k high of £50k)”

How long do Mortgage Advisor work?

Commonly we see that an average Mortgage Advisor will be contracted to work between 35 and 40 hours a week. We say contracted because many individuals, especially those who are self-employed, will usually surpass this number especially in the early stages where individuals have to work harder to build up a pipeline of business. 

It is also common for Mortgage Advisors to work at least one day on the weekend to meet the needs of their clients. Some list of duties include:

  • Client meetings
  • Chasing providers and lenders 
  • Generating business
  • Liaising with support staff (potentially)
  • Cross-selling protection (potentially)

Mortgage Advisor benefits 

Being a Mortgage Advisor is a role that can open up a huge range of potential benefits, some common ones we have identified are:

  • Uncapped earning potential
  • Flexible working
  • Work for yourself
  • Rewarding
  • Cheaper than an average career path  
  • Leads provided

And many more!

Types of Mortgage Advisor job

  • Trainee Mortgage Advisor – An entry-level job following the standard duties of a Mortgage Advisor just at a slower pace with all work overseen and checked. Can be started whilst you obtain your qualifications
  • Senior Mortgage Advisor – Standard duties of a Mortgage Advisor + you may be the go-to person for unusual or high-profile cases
  • Mortgage & Protection Advisor – Standard duties of a Mortgage Advisor + required to cross-sell protection 
  • Mortgage Manager – Usually responsible for a team of Mortgage Advisors
  • New build Mortgage Advisor – Providing Mortgage Advice specifically on newly built properties 
  • Whole of Market Mortgage Advisor – “They are usually independent mortgage advisors with no links to any specific mortgage lender. This means that you are not limiting yourself to a single lender or group of lenders that a ‘tied’ broker works with. You’ll have a much greater pool of mortgage options to choose from and because they’re free of ties to any lenders, they can offer you completely impartial advice. It’s worth noting that even ‘whole of market’ brokers don’t tend to cover absolutely every option in the market. But to get the name ‘whole of market’, they do have to cover enough options to be representative of the whole market, so you’ll still be getting a wide range of options.” – clearscore
  • Tied / Multi-tied Mortgage Advisor “This type of broker is either tied directly to one lender or a group of lenders. So they are much more limited in the type of mortgage that they can recommend” – clearscore

Employed vs self-employed

Mortgage Advice is an industry that benefits people being employed and self-employed; both options are great and can suit different people with different needs. In this section we will weigh up what these pros and cons actually are:

Pros and Cons

What are the most common reasons that 84.9% of people choose to be employed?

  1. You have a guaranteed level of income per month

This benefit is arguably the most common reason why people chose to be employed. We all have bills to pay (no matter how big or small), so it’s comforting to know that your important expenses and financial commitments are covered.

  • You aren’t responsible for calculating your own tax

As an employee, you come under the PAYE system, which is designed to collect your income tax and National Insurance automatically. This is good news if you dislike maths or don’t want the cost of hiring an Accountant!

  • You have the benefit of holiday and statutory sick pay

This is understandably a huge benefit of being employed. Companies are required, by law, to provide workers who work 5 days a week, at least 28 days of paid holiday entitlement per annum (within financial services jobs, this is normally provided as 20 days + 8 bank holidays). Fun fact: the average UK holiday entitlement, including public holidays, is 33.5 days per year!

All of the above benefits sound great, right?! So why become self-employed?

  1. You have greater control on how much you earn – and your potential income is unlimited

Although you are not guaranteed to earn ‘x’ level of income per month, your income will often be a direct reflection of the work you put in. If you have a fantastic work ethic, you could quite easily exceed your current employed earnings!

  • You have flexibility of your own schedule

As a self-employed individual, typically you have full autonomy over your diary – you can work at the times that suit you best and escape the 9 – 5. This often can help those wanting the flexibility to balance work and life commitments. See our blog on work from home – the pros and cons

  • You can reduce your everyday costs / expenses

As a self-employed individual, you can deduct allowable business expenses. In short, this allows you to claim back the certain costs of business-related items / expenses (such as travel, internet, phone bill, marketing and training courses etc). These deductions can reduce your expenses and potentially save yourself some money!

Disadvantages of being employed

  1. Micro-management

Some companies / managers micro-manage their employed staff. This means they oversee all of your work and become overbearing with checking even the smallest of tasks you complete. This can be a huge drawback, as it can make an employee feel under pressure.

2. Job security

Redundancies can be a threat to any worker. Unfortunately, for employees they can often come as quite a shock, with often full teams being made redundant. Therefore, whilst you might be the top performer but if your office location is being closed, there is not much you can do! Self-employed individuals can also have their contracts terminated, however employed individuals are at a greater risk.

Disadvantages of being self-employed

  1. No holiday pay or sick pay

If you are not feeling well enough to work or on holiday, there is nobody to cover for you. When you’re self-employed, you are paid for the work you do! Fortunately, within financial planning and mortgage advice, the nature of your sales pipeline means the earnings tend to even out which has less of a direct impact

2. Getting a mortgage

There is a common misconception that you can only get a mortgage if you are employed. This, of course, is completely false. However, when applying for a mortgage, it is common for your Mortgage Advisor to request for a minimum of 2 years’ worth of accounts for proof of earnings. You should still be able to take out a mortgage if you’re self-employed, but the process is likely to take longer than usual. Being within the financial services industry, hopefully you will know a good Mortgage Advisor who can help you!

The big question is: how do you decide which route is the right move for you?

When deciding whether to go employed or self-employed, it is important to consider your own personal circumstances, goals and lifestyle. If you get distracted easily, find it hard to motivate yourself and don’t have self-discipline, the employed model may be more suited to you. If you are someone who likes to be in control of your day, enjoys having a flexible schedule for outside-of-work commitments and if you are motivated by earnings, the self-employed model may fit you best. If you’re unsure on which route is best for you or would like to know more about the pros and cons, give us a call today on 0208 0044 154 and you’ll be able to speak to our Recruitment Consultants – with most of our team having personal experience of being both employed and self-employed!

Please note, when deciding the monetary benefit of employed vs self-employed, seek guidance from a professional. For helpful information, there are many websites you can refer to, including gov.uk

Leads

Provided:

This is where your company will provide you with leads, you will be required to do little to no work when it comes to generating leads. These leads may be cold, warm or hot but regardless, you will have to convert!

Or

Self-generation:

In some roles, you will be required to carry out some form of self-generation in regard to new business. This is usually done through a variety of means including but not limited to:

  • Social media
  • Introducer – estate agency, accountant, financial advisor
  • Networking events
  • Professional groups
  • Referrals
  • Reviews / testimonials
  • Marketing initiatives

What qualification(s) do you need to become a Mortgage Advisor?

In the UK to provide Mortgage Advice, you must have a qualification recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If you don’t have a recognised qualification, you can’t legally provide regulated Mortgage Advice in the UK. 

Although there are many mortgage qualifications the two main qualifications that are recognised as industry standards come from the two main (CeMAP and The Certificate in Mortgage Advice) Financial Services qualification providers; the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Both of these providers have an array of qualifications covering Mortgage Advice, Financial Advice, Paraplanning and more! We have covered most of these core qualifications on our blog and YouTube channel and we will reference any relevant in-depth content throughout this blog.

CeMAP

The Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) is an industry-standard qualification for Mortgage Advisor’s and is awarded by the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF). For more in-depth detail on the CeMAP qualification check out our YouTube video on the subject. CeMAP is broken down into three units commonly known as:

CeMAP 1 consisting of…

  • UNIT 1: Introduction to the Financial Services Environment & Products
  • UNIT 2: UK Financial Services and Regulation

CeMAP 2 consisting of…

  • UNIT 3: Mortgage Law, Policy, Practice & Markets
  • UNIT 4: Mortgage Application
  • UNIT 5: Mortgage Payment Methods & Products
  • UNIT 6: Mortgage Arrears & Post-Completion issues

CeMAP 3 consisting of…

  • UNIT 7: Assessment of Mortgage Advice & Knowledge

Benefits of CeMAP

  • CeMAP can be the start of a lucrative career as a Mortgage Advisor; the job board reed stated that the average Mortgage Advisor earnings were around £50,000
  • As an experienced Mortgage Advisor, you can start to build up your bank of clients and as such build up your pipeline of business
  • Many Mortgage Advisor roles have uncapped earnings. Plus, you could have the option to become a self-employed Mortgage Advisor which typically will provide the added benefit of flexible working
  • Being a Mortgage Advisor is a fulfilling career whereby you can make a real impact on people’s lives by allowing to get involved in the property market
  •  Many Trainee Mortgage Advisors need some level of CeMAP for entry-level jobs

The Certificate in Mortgage Advice

The Certificate in Mortgage Advice is a level 3 qualification that meets the FCA’s qualification requirements for mortgage advisers. Upon completion, it allows CII/PFS members to provide professional Mortgage Advice in the U.K and also to use the Cert CII (MP) designation in their name. 

It is broken down into two units; one compulsory unit which is CF6 (Mortgage Advice) and then an additional unit of either R01 (Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics) or CF1 (UK Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics). For more in-depth detail on the Certificate in Mortgage Advice qualification check out our YouTube video on the subject.

Benefits of the Certificate in Mortgage Advice

  • Broken down into separate units making it more manageable
  • Some choice in what units you do
  • The result is instant when using MCQ
  • Extra study material is available if you need it

For a full, in-depth, comparison of the two qualifications check out our YouTube video or blog for more information on the topic.

How to revise for either of the certificates 

The revision of either CeMAP or the Certificate in Mortgage Advice is very similar as they both use multiple-choice questions as their main assessment method. Therefore, your revision should be catered around this. Some suggestion from us are flashcards, recording yourself reading the content and then using practice questions to test yourself.

Desirable qualities 

Mortgage Advisors have to have a certain set of skills to succeed in their role, we recently covered that over on our “A guide to competency-based interviews” blog. 

  • Integrity: As a Mortgage Advisor you will have to demonstrate integrity when looking for the best deal for your clients 
  • Managing relationships: You will have to effectively manage several relationships simultaneously, if you do not your clients will be dissatisfied making business for your harder
  • Determination: Mortgage Advisors can have a frustrating job at times chasing clients, lenders and back-office staff, you must remain determined to get the job done at a high standard 

How to develop these 

These competencies will come naturally to many, but they can also be developed through personal development. Many people will have some example(s), even if it’s not work-related, of how they have demonstrated these qualities in wider life. Think hard about when you have demonstrated these and jot some examples down. 

Targeted sales experience

Another important aspect for Mortgage Advisor jobs will stress the importance of targeted sales experience. This is because Mortgage Advice heavily relies on individuals having a good set of sales skills in an environment where you have to directly target certain product / service options for certain individuals. Some examples of this are:

  • Mobile phone sales 
  • Car sales
  • Recruitment consulting 
  • Estate agency 
  • Insurance selling 
  • Energy selling
  • Window sales
  • Door knocking 

Although experience in a role like this is not always essential, it will massively help and if you can find an example of where and how you have used this in previous jobs. 

Application process 

When it comes to applying to jobs you first need to write a quality CV. One of the most challenging aspects at the start of job hunting can be writing a CV. Often you have to ‘brush the dust off’ your old CV; reformat the old word document and rack your brain on how to summarise your current role into a couple of paragraphs. This is a common problem many modern-day professionals face, often to no avail. Luckily for you, this article seeks to explain how to find that balance between ‘standing out’ and maintaining the desired professionalism. 

What is a CV?

A CV is short for Curriculum Vitae, a Latin phrase which in English translates directly to “course of life”. Most modern-day professionals will have some form of a CV which can vary from a formalised document to a LinkedIn profile detailing education, experience and can even have references!

What should a CV contain? 

  • A CV normally contains different sections including, but not limited to:  
  • Contact Information
  • Personal Statement 
  • Work Experience 
  • Education and Professional Qualifications 
  • Skills  
  • Hobbies, additional languages or volunteer work you may have participated in.  

Why a good CV is important?

A good CV can vary from company to company, role to role and industry to industry however one factor always remains, a good CV is always important (So important that it was our first ever blog post!). A CV is a great screening tool to assess if you have the desired qualifications, such as DipFA, CeMAP or R05 and the desired work experience for the vacancy. This is why it is so important, and tricky, to write a great CV as it looks to find the perfect balance of honesty (both to yourself and the company), enticing the company by saying the right things as well as ticking all the boxes in terms of entry requirements. In this blog post, we will attempt to aid you with all the separate things that make a great CV for Financial Services. 

Qualifications 

Due to the nature of the Financial Services industry, professional qualifications are required for advice roles and most support positions. Whether it be CeMAP (Certificate in Mortgage Advice & Practice), Diploma of Financial Planning, DipFA (Diploma for Financial Advisers), DipMAP (Diploma in Mortgage Advice and Practice). Therefore, this usually is a binary concept for IFA firms and Mortgage Brokerages with vacancies stating necessary qualifications to be suitable for the role. It may be a good idea to ensure your qualifications are located near the top of your CV to ensure you get over the first hurdle straight away.  

Remember, it’s marketing! 

Think of your CV as an advertisement of your skills and attributes you can bring to a new organisation. What are your personal USP’s? What makes you stand out from your peers? It might be a cliché, but put yourself in the shoes of the business, and ask yourself the questions you think they would be asking, and then ensure the answers are included within your CV. It may be a good idea to add a core competency section to display your key skills (E.g. I consistently hit my targets) and then give context (of writing 4 mortgages a month and often exceed this by achieving circa 6). This will help you build credibility and increase your chances. Do be careful to not overdo it, keep the information relevant and try not to obviously brag, this blog post explains how to find balance between confidence and arrogance. With this being said, don’t write an essay! CV-library wrote a great article on how to keep your CV on two pages which is great to use as a point of reference.

Experience

In conjunction with qualifications arguably the most important thing to include on a Financial Services CV is your experience. Some roles such as Trainee or Junior roles may allow little to no experience whereas, more Senior positions like an Independent Financial Advisor, Senior Paraplanner or Mortgage Advisor traditionally require numerous years of experience. It may be a good idea to give this section the same weight as your qualifications section, because companies may reject you on the ground of lack of experience. Even in junior roles, it is important to show that you have shown some form of initiative whether this is through work experience or a more formalised internship. Therefore, it can be beneficial for highlighting your experience.  

Writing a covering letter 

Writing a covering letter seems like a long arduous process, however, you can create a template to assist each job application, by using an initial skeleton copy and then tailoring specifically to each vacancy you apply for. To boost your letter, undertake research and discuss some aspects of the company that appeal to you and explain why.  

Using LinkedIn 

As the modern-day professional networking site, it can be a great way to display the companies you have worked for and can give an opportunity to display public references from previous employers. Furthermore, your education can be shown with grades and the name of the institution (much in the same way as your CV) and also skills and endorsements that your LinkedIn connections can choose to give you. A great blog article that explains how to turn your LinkedIn profile into a resume is this one written by the balance careers and is well worth a read if you are thinking about making that change.

Conclusion

  1. CVs are important and should be taken seriously – This one is obvious, right? 
  2. Prioritise experience and qualifications – These are the most important things especially in the financial services industry 
  3. Remember to market yourself and utilise everything you can – Go beyond your duties and list key achievements you obtained within your roles  
  4. Apply for jobs – Don’t worry, we have loads, apply today and find your dream Mortgage Advisor job here

When to start applying and typical entry points: 

Once you have written your CV there are various points you can choose to apply for Mortgage Advisor roles, and this will vary from position to position:

Trainee Mortgage Advisor

When to start applying: Trainee roles can vary in requirements but commonly we see that companies want at least CeMAP 1 and sometimes some level of sales experience 

Entry point: Straight out of university. Many companies will look for degree educated, hungry and ambitious individuals who will be able to use their drive and determination to lay the groundwork for a solid career

Mortgage Advisor

When to start applying: Typically, these roles will be suitable for anyone with a suitable certificate and CAS.

Entry point: After obtaining CAS. As a Trainee Mortgage Advisor, you will obtain CAS after you have a series of cases signed off. At this point, most companies will deem you suitable and viable to join their business. We will cover CAS in more detail later in this guide.

Or

Career progression from Administrator: Some Mortgage Advisors will start out their career as an Administrator and build upwards from there. If you are lucky enough, you may even join a firm where they will assist you in paying for your exams and supporting material.

Senior Mortgage Advisor

When to start applying: For these senior roles you will need to be fully CeMAP qualified with several years of experience and a strong track record of a successful career in Mortgage Advice.

Entry point: Senior Mortgage Advisors usually enter the position after several years in the industry once they have built up a good level of experience.

Different ways to look for a role 

1 – Job boards

One obvious way to look for a new job is through job boards, sites like Total JobsReed and CV-Library are all great sites to look for vacancies and you can sort vacancies by location, salary and entry requirements to fit your career needs. Some employers will advertise vacancies themselves through their own websites, so make sure you use other methods on your job hunt!

However, there are other downsides to exclusively using job boards. The main drawback being the lack of response to job applications. Unfortunately, around 15% of job applicants never even get a response for their application and a massive 48% of respondents said that waiting to hear back from employers is “highly frustrating”.

2 – Recruitment agencies

Another fantastic way to look for jobs is through recruitment agencies who work “with companies to find appropriate people for their vacancies, and work with candidates to find them a suitable position”. It is often that companies looking to hire will outsource their recruitment needs to a specialist, meaning their vacancies can only be accessed through a recruiter.

A common misconception that some people say is that “Recruiters find people for jobs and not jobs for people” however this is not the case. The process starts by focusing on understanding your specific wants and needs. From taking time to understand your situation, the specialist Recruitment Consultant will be in a prime position to identify roles in your area that match your prerequisites. At Premier Jobs UK, we will never submit your details to any company without your consent. If you are interested in discussing potential roles in your area that match your preferences please feel free to get in touch:

Email: enquiries@premierjobsuk.com

Telephone: 0208 0044 154

LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2NbdiMB

3 – Talk to people in your network

Finally, another way to look for new opportunities is by reaching out to your network both in person and on your social networking sites. This can be a valuable process as they may have insider knowledge or access to their own network which could bring out unique opportunities. However, this can be hit and miss, and quite time-consuming.

Application advice

The interview

Advice for the interview – what to expect

In interviews for Mortgage Advisors, you can expect competency-based interviews which are interviews that aim to test your core competencies. They attempt to find out what core skills you have, how you use them and examples of this in both your career and wider life.

How long are competency-based interviews?

Most competency-based interviews will last in or around 1 hour. This can massively vary depending on; how the interview has gone (good or bad), how many stages the company has in the recruitment process and how many candidates are interviewing for the role.

What are competency-based interview questions?

Competency-based interview questions aim to identify and expand on your core competencies which are described by Indeed as “Skills, certifications, knowledge of different software products or personality traits that make you a desirable candidate”

Examples of personal core competencies

The following are some core competencies for various aspects of a business:

Business Focus 

  • Meeting customer needs: Anticipates, responds to and seeks to exceed the expectations of existing and potential customers
  • Business awareness: Has an up to date and detailed understanding of business needs, customers and the business 
  • Personal results: Sets oneself clear and challenging objectives, striving to achieve them within agreed deadlines
  • Business development: Researches and obtains quality business for the firm by building and maintaining useful working relationships
  • Team results: Sets clear and challenging objectives, inspiring and encouraging high performance from teams and individuals. Reviews progress achieved, publicly and privately recognising achievement

People Focus

  • Involving people: Encourages the contribution of others and takes their views into account
  • Developing people: Demonstrates a genuine interest in coaching and developing others in order to improve performance 
  • Managing relationships: Builds and maintains good relationships with customers and colleagues by adopting the most appropriate approach to deal with people and situations
  • Influencing others: Influences others using rational arguments and identifies the basis for compromise and reaches agreement
  • Written and verbal communication: Conveys accurate information effectively using the most appropriate methods to reflect the needs of the audience and ensure understanding

Personal Focus 

  • Personal organisation: Efficient in one’s use of time and works well in a structured way 
  • Self-control: Performs effectively by keeping emotions under control, particularly in stressful and difficult situations
  • Self-confidence: Projects a realistic belief in one’s own ability. Not afraid of criticism, will raise issues and challenge even in the face of expected or actual opposition
  • Self-development: Takes responsibility for personal improvement, learning from experience and new situations
  • Determination: Demonstrates repeated effort over a period of time, overcoming obstacles in order to achieve a goal

Change Focus 

  • Adaptability: Responds positively to changing business circumstances and readily adapts behaviour to maintain effective performance
  • Strategic approach: Understands the long term direction of the business and can relate this to one’s own business area
  • Innovation: Thinks of and / or encourages new ideas, and is keen to experiment and see ideas implemented 

Analytical Focus

  • Information gathering: Seeks the full range of relevant and accurate information in a methodical way 
  • Forward planning: Anticipates the possible demands and outcomes of a particular task or situation. Plans and prioritises appropriately 
  • Analysis and judgement: Logically breaks down problems / situations into their essential parts and draws reasonable conclusions based on their analysis
  • Decision making: Makes timely and balanced decisions, based on available information but is prepared to review if circumstances change 
  • Wider thinking: Actively considers the wider picture, identifying patterns and connections between issues / situations that are not obviously related

Quality Focus

  • Thoroughness: Is accurate, pays attention to detail and ensures tasks are completed on time 
  • Quality Conscious: Consistently works to a high standard and looks for ways to improve current working practices and processes
  • Initiative: Takes appropriate action before being asked and actively finds solutions to problems
  • Integrity: Shows support for the group values – particularly demonstrating the highest levels of honesty and integrity

What should I expect at a competency-based interview?

Prospects detail “Expect questions opening with ‘Tell us about a time when you…’, ‘Give an example of…’ or ‘Describe how you…’ examples include:

  • Describe a situation in which you led a team.
  • Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace.
  • How do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues?
  • Tell me about a big decision you’ve made recently. How did you go about it?
  • What has been your biggest achievement to date?
  • Describe a project where you had to use different leadership styles to reach your goal.
  • Tell me about a time when your communication skills improved a situation.
  • How do you cope with adversity?
  • Give me an example of a challenge you faced in the workplace and tell me how you overcame it.
  • Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism.
  • How do you influence people in a situation with conflicting agendas?
  • Give an example of a situation where you solved a problem creatively.
  • Tell me about a time that you made a decision and then changed your mind.
  • Describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you’d never attempted previously.
  • Tell me about a time when you achieved success even when the odds were stacked against you.”

How do I identify my core competencies?

Ask yourself a series of questions:

  • How would others describe you?
  • What are you really good at?
  • Why are you good at those things?
  • What are some of your biggest achievements?
  • What was required from you to achieve these?

How do I prepare for a competency-based interview UK?

Cheatsheet: Jot down a few of your key core competencies both personally and for your job role with examples / stories to detail these competencies

Tell a story: By using the traditional story arc of ‘beginning, middle and end’ you will be able to demonstrate the progression of an event that occurred covering the start of the project / problem / task / conflict (etc) and following it through to the completion or resolution.

5 Ws (and 1 H): 

Who? Who is it about? Who was involved?

What? What happened? What was the outcome? What was the market like?

When? When in your career did this happen? When did it take place?

Where? Where did it take place?

Why? Why did it happen? Why did this situation come around? Why were you a part of this? Why were you involved?

How? What did you put in place to make this thing happen? How were you involved? 

A lot of detail can be added to an idea when using the 5 Ws and 1 H method and can be flipped and be used to glean information about the company from the interviewers as detailed by ABRIVIA.

What is the STAR technique in competency-based interviews?

The STAR technique is the ‘go-to’ technique when looking to effectively answer competency-based interview questions. It stands for:

S – Situation

T – Task

A – Action

R – Result

How to use the STAR technique in competency-based interviews?

Start by talking through the situation, set the scene talk by using the 5 W and H method and using the ‘beginning’ section of the story arc.

You then lay out the task what the task is and when it happened, who was involved, why it came about and where this was (whether that be the company to what the point in your career was.)

Then work through the actions you took during this time including how you dealt with people involved / timeframe / workload etc. Honestly and clearly explain the result of the task, linking it back to the question or competency to complete the answer.

Infographic courtesy of QuestionPro

Advice from our team

Steve Higson:

  1. “Step outside of your comfort zone, one thing I always tell my candidates is that no one will shout your greatest achievements like you will – if you don’t; who will?
  2. Remain honest at all times, the only person you will be harming is yourself when your work ask you to complete a task that you have no idea how to do!
  3. Expect a different approach from company to company. A large company will have a much different recruitment process to a small, local ‘one-person-band there is no universal set way a question should be answered”  

Adrian Watson:

  1. “It is important to remember not to overthink or stress about an interview, it’s not something you can or would want to rehearse. By rehearsing your answers, you are not giving your interviewer the real version of you. Ultimately an interview is about the culture fit as well as the skills fit.
  2. Allow your passion to show when talking about an event or story, not only will this impress the interviewer it will also open your mind up to other anecdotes that you may be able to use
  3. If you have a tough question that you are struggling to answer; take your time! Ask for the question to be repeated or take a sip of water and take a moment to formulate your answer”

Jason and Alyson Cane

  1. “A good way to look at core competencies are; You have two aspects of your role; the what and the how. The what includes the larger skills that you may have such as business development, interpersonal skills etc and then the how are the competencies themselves which fall under the wider skills. For example, under interpersonal skills may be ‘involving people’ and ‘managing relationships’
  2. You may have an interviewer that lulls you into a false sense of security in terms of how the interview is going, they may be nodding and smiling but remember to not get complacent and to fully answer the question every time.
  3. It is a great idea to take a ‘warm-up’ document or a ‘cheat sheet’ to help remind you of certain aspects that you wish to cover. This will prepare you for the interview and also impress the interviewers by showing how much you have prepared. As long as you are not constantly looking at your sheet and reciting things from it, it will be a great tool”

Gary Venner: 

  1. “Start writing down great examples when they happen of effective competencies e.g. a demanding day where organisation skills were needed to prioritise work and get everything done; when you had to deal with a difficult client or team member. Ask colleagues what examples they could recite where you showed effective behaviours to achieve / exceed outcomes against objectives. 
  2. Use the star model so that the answer is well structured, keep the situation and task brief, spend more time on the actions taken so that you give at least 5 good examples of what you did (remember to tell the interviewer why you chose to take the actions that you did) 
  3. Lastly, make sure the Result achieved / exceeded the task. If the example doesn’t meet the objective / task abandon this example and use a different one. Otherwise, the example will give the impression that ‘nearly’ is good enough.”

Ryan Venner:

  1. Make sure the examples are about your involvement – they are interviewing you for the job, talking about what your colleagues previously achieved isn’t what the interviewer wants to hear
  2. Be prepared – competency-based interviews can be overwhelming to provide such detailed answers, however, if you are prepared and know your examples well, it will come naturally
  3. Read the interviewers’ body language – sometimes candidates can receive feedback they waffled on, make sure you read the body language of the interviewer to gauge their interest
  4. Ask if they would like you to expand further – if you feel your answer was too short, check before you move on to the next question 

Interview handout sheet and tutorial 

As a company, we have curated some materials for our candidates that you can use when at the interview stage. To gain access to them, just call or email us and register your details.

Accepting the role / negotiating 

Once you have received an offer, if you see fit to negotiate your offer, we also have content that covers how best you can negotiate your offer: