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Preparing for a telephone interview

If you’ve been offered a telephone interview with World Duty Free (WDF) then you should be prepared to answer some general questions about your abilities (often called “competency based” questions).  All applicants are asked the same questions to ensure you have an equal opportunity to present your abilities for the role.

Here are some tips on how you should prepare for competency based questions.

What is a competency?

Competencies are those behaviours that you demonstrate at work that make you effective. They are a mixture of skills, knowledge, motivation and personal characteristics. In demonstrating your competence you will be showing the skills and the background knowledge necessary for you to perform a particular task effectively, together with the motivation or drive to make things happen. Your answers should always provide factual examples and you should try to avoid making vague statements.

In a WDF interview, each candidate is asked the same broad questions which are designed to obtain information about the match between the individual’s competencies and those required for the job. These questions concentrate on the most important parts of your past experience, which enables our WDF interviewer to draw out your ability to demonstrate successful performance in the position.

Why are competency interviews used?
Our individual skills, attributes and behaviours make us unique, they also influence the way we react and respond to events in our lives and, of course, how we perform at work.  It makes sense for interviewers to ask you about your competencies and see how they “match” the job requirements.

Following some general questions about yourself and your background at the start of your WDF interview, you will be asked some specific competency based questions, these often being with:

  • “Tell me about a time when …………”
  • “Describe an occasion when ………..”
  • “When has it been important to ………”

These initial questions may then be followed by further questions to enable our WDF interviewer to get as complete a picture of you and as much detailed evidence as possible depending on the relevance of the answers you give.

Preparing for cphoneinterviewompetency based interviews

It is vital that you prepare in advance for this type of interview by identifying the best examples of when you have demonstrated the key competencies for the role. These should be included in the job description, so make sure you have access to this.

There are two main areas to consider – the job and yourself.

  1. The Job: Alongside the job description, make sure that you have as much information about the role as you can get, for example, Teams that you will support and/or regularly interact with. You should then think through what the important factors are to be successful and how these match the competencies you have displayed in your most current role.
  1. Yourself: Self-knowledge is an important part of your preparation. To be successful in a competency based interview, you need to make a good impression and be different, but sensibly so! The interviewer may see several people and the one that will be remembered is the one who is distinctive, has something interesting to say, or can make a unique contribution to the role.

Focus on your achievements

  • Consider the things that you have done that you are most proud of in relation to your career or life to date. If this is your first job application, consider achievements while in education or any volunteering work you may have done.
  • Include situations where you feel that you have handled them particularly well, just make sure these can be related to an element of the WDF role you are applying for.
  • Focus on ways in which you have contributed to the success of an organisation as a whole. Again if this is your first job, can you show how your contributions benefited a project at school/college/university or in any volunteering you have undertaken?

phone interviewFor each achievement you think about the part that you played or how you excelled project timelines or deliverables, for example and relate these to specific competencies. Remember that our WDF interviewer is interested in finding about you and what you have achieved, not about your team, a project or your manager’s achievements.  It is important that you focus on your own achievements and contributions.


While you should prepare for you WDF interview, it is key that you answer the questions during the interview as spontaneously as you can. If the interviewer stops you from expanding on a particular point do not worry – they will ensure that you have the opportunity to concentrate on the areas of greatest relevance to the role on offer.

All that remains to be said is good luck!