Competencies & Job Applications: 5 questions

Many employers today work competency-based, but how do you best convey your competencies in the interview process?

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Apply & Competencies

Competencies & Job Applications: 5 questions
on how to highlight your competencies

More and more companies are using competency-based recruiting. This means that they look beyond education and experience. Because in this tight labor market it is no longer a given that a new employee will have experience in the same job.

Organizations must necessarily recruit in a more creative and open-minded way, and recruiters must therefore assess the future potential of a new employee. So don’t keep hoping for an applicant who already 100% meets the perfect picture, but check whether a potential employee has what it takes to become good at the new job within a reasonable period of time. And you help them enormously if you give them clear insight into your competences. How? That’s where we come in.

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1. What are competencies

Competencies show what skills, talents, attitude and/or knowledge you possess. Everyone has innumerable competencies but they are not all equally well developed by everyone. At, for example, you will find a long list of competencies and their descriptions.

To conquer a new job, it is important to emphasize the competencies in which you excel and which are important for that job. Because with those competencies you tell in a few keywords where your strengths lie and a future employer can get a better picture of your capabilities.

2. How to find out what your competencies are

To sell yourself, you need to know yourself well. So it all starts with self-knowledge. To find out your own competencies there are several strategies you can use:

  • First of all, you can get inspired online by the numerous lists, such as If you show the behavior that belongs to a certain competence, you can assume that you have that competence.
  • Also look back in your school career and / or career, what things have you achieved and what was needed for that?
  • Ask colleagues or friends what they see as your competencies and ask them for an example of why they think so.
  • There are several online tests that you can find to determine your competencies, look for example at

3. What competencies should you name

In the application process, it is important to always look for the optimal fit with the job you are applying for. The more similarities the greater the chance that you will be selected for an introduction. Ideally, this means that you should always adapt your resume to the job you are applying for. Each time you look at what competencies are needed to successfully perform the job and let them come back in different ways in your resume and/or motivation. You do this not only by checking out the job ad, but also by researching the company culture on the website and socials and/or by asking someone who already has the position which competencies really make the difference.

4. How to incorporate your competencies into your resume

Once you have determined the relevant competencies, the key is to reflect them clearly but not too literally in your application. For example by:

  • giving an example in your motivation in which you substantiate that you have mastered a competency;
  • showing a number of these competencies in your personality description;
  • highlighting relevant competencies in the description of previous jobs;
  • put a separate heading for competencies on your resume.

Note: Do not repeat literally and only the list of requested competencies, that is not so credible, but make a translation to your personal situation. Also, focus only on the competencies you actually master and do not exaggerate. Lies and arrogance are not appreciated by anyone. Naming 5 to 7 competencies is fine. A judgment is quickly formed, so put the most important competencies in the most prominent place.

5. How to incorporate your competencies in the job interview

Once you have been invited for an introduction, it is important to prepare well for this interview. You can assume that you will be asked about the competencies you want and those you have mentioned. Prepare a question like: I read here that you are very accurate, can you indicate how that is expressed in your work? be well prepared. A frequently used method here is the STARR technique. The letters stand for:

Situation: What was the situation and what were the circumstances like?
Task: What was your task and what role did you play?
Action: How did you approach it and what did you do?
Result: What was the result and how was it responded to?
Reflection: Were you satisfied and would you do it again?

STARR methode

Senior Recruitment Consultant Key Accounts Kasia Lamens explains:

It is helpful to think of an example with these topics for each relevant competency in advance. And feel free to practice this on a friend. If you then want to give an example for a competence, you immediately have an experience with evidential value ready. So first you state the situation, then you explain your tasks, then you say what actions you have taken and then you start talking about the result. How did your manager, customers or colleagues react? Finally, you can tell how you learned from it and how satisfied you are. This may also reveal learning points and indicates that you are being honest and reflecting on your actions.

Want more advice

Would you like advice on how to best put your competences in the spotlight? Feel free to contact Kasia Lamens or her colleague – Recruitment Consultants. They will be happy to advise you on your CV and career or – if you wish – put you in touch with our interesting clients and their vacancies and career opportunities.

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