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How to use the STAR technique to excel in job interviews
Getting to the interview stage is an exciting time for any job hunter. However, it is crucial to prepare answers for several typical STAR interview questions when you enter a job interview.
The delivery and detail of your answers count for everything at this stage, when all that stands between you and your dream job is talking confidently about your work experience and offering examples of your successes, maybe with a small test involved.
Using the STAR interview technique to answer STAR interview questions can help you structure your answers clearly and professionally whilst ensuring that you are saying everything you want to in an interview.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.
How to excel using STAR
The key to making the STAR technique work for you is to follow the sequence of situation, task, action and result. Then, shape your answers to behavioural and competency-based interview questions into concise stories with a beginning, middle, and end — starting with a brief introduction that outlines the situation you are about to explain.
For instance, if the interviewer asks you to describe a time you dealt with a pressurised or stressful situation at work, you might say:
“I was working as a part of a team of six, developing a series of web platforms for the first of a series of company website launches. We were confident we would complete the project to schedule, but two team members, including our manager, fell ill and were unable to come into work.”
Now you should move onto the task section of your answer, which should outline the task you faced; setting out the goals and the objectives for your team and the wider business.
“The team was suddenly under serious pressure to meet a deadline on which a substantial marketing budget had already been invested. We were required to meet the original deadline with depleted personnel and an obvious lack of leadership.”
The most detailed part of your answer should be the action. This is where you describe how you dealt with the task. Here, you will detail your use of available resources, the personal and relevant skills you brought to the table and your direct involvement. The action section of your answer should leave your interviewer in no doubt about your contribution and why you carried out the task in a particular way.
“I was up to speed with all aspects of the project, and I remained confident in my programming skills through my previous experience and recent training in this area. I put myself forward as the team leader for the remainder of the project. I was able to draw on my technical skills and on the team leadership skills that I had acquired from captaining a rowing crew throughout university. We, as a team, effectively broadened our time frame on the projects and ran checks on the sites before presentation to the board.”
You will now need to wrap up your answer by outlining the result of your actions. This is where you get to demonstrate the benefits that those actions had for the company and team and your professional development.
“Under my leadership, the team were able to deliver the project on time. The launch was a resounding success. The team were congratulated on a job well done and I was promoted to the position of group head.”
How STAR can engage the interviewer
As with all good storytelling, clarity and precision are key to answering interview questions. Try to deliver your STAR answers in well under three minutes and always keep it positive, upbeat and free from heavy jargon.
At all stages of the STAR technique, you should strive to answer the question in such a way as to highlight your relevant skills, work experience and suitability to the role on offer.
Preparing to use STAR in an interview
We recommend that all candidates prepare five STAR interview sample answers based on achievements relevant to the key selection criteria the role requires. Answering behavioural interview questions can often have some crossover when you are planning your answers. Think of how you can present your answers and achievements to suit different questions. For example, the scenario used above could be used to prove teamwork or project management capabilities, and your ability to handle pressure or problem solve.
If you are looking for a new opportunity, please get in touch with one of our recruitment consultants today who can help you to secure your dream role. Alternatively, create a MyPage account to keep track of your applications with us and make use of our Job Match tool.