The STAR Interview Technique – what you need to know

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Rhian Burge Candidate resources, Candidate toolkit

The STAR Interview Technique – what you need to know

The STAR interview technique is universally acknowledged as the simplest and best way to answer competency based questions. It will allow you to structure your responses effectively and is sure to be recognised by your interviewer.

S            Situation

T            Task

A            Action

R            Result

Situation

Describe the situation as clearly as possible, concentrating on the key facts. For example if you are asked to talk about a time where you had to deal with a difficult person, explain how you came to meet them and why they were being difficult. Pick a situation that you are familiar with and which involved interacting with others.

Task

Talk about the task and how success was measured. Highlight any specific challenges or constraints such as deadlines and costs and if you were working as part of a team, be clear about the specific role you played.

Action

Explain in some detail what you did, how you did it and why. Steer clear of overcomplicated technical information, unless it is crucial to the story and keep it personal, focusing on your role rather than on the rest of the team. The interviewer will want to know how you reacted to the situation and it will provide you with the perfect opportunity to start selling your skills.

For example when discussing a situation where you had to deal with conflict, many candidates would say: “I told my colleague to calm down and explained to him what the problem was.” However, this would not provide a good idea of what drove you to act in this manner. How did you ask him to calm down? How did you explain the nature of the problem? By highlighting the reasons behind your actions, you could make a greater impact.

Another way to put it would be:I could sense that my colleague was irritated and I asked him gently to tell me what he felt the problem was. By allowing him to vent his feelings and his anger, I gave him the opportunity to calm down. I then explained to him my own point of view on the matter, emphasising how important it was that we found a solution that suited us both."

This revised answer helps the interviewers understand what drove your actions and reinforces the feeling that you are calculating the consequences of your actions and retaining full control of the situation. It provides much more information about you as an individual and is another reason why the STAR approach is so useful.

Result

Tell the interviewer how the situation was resolved and its ultimate outcome. Use this opportunity to describe what you accomplished, what you learned from the experience and how you applied this to future undertakings. By doing this you will keep your answer personal and will be able to highlight further skills.

If you need help with your interview technique or your job search, get in touch with us for expert advice every step of the way.