STAR Interview Method Explained

We are frequently asked by our candidates what to expect in an interview and interview preparation is a part of our service. To ensure that within an interview you are able to demonstrate your skills and experience in the best way possible, we would like to share our knowledge of the STAR interview technique.

STAR method

The STAR interview technique is a common interview format and is a great recruitment tool for employers to gain a lot of knowledge about a candidate’s abilities within the interview. Alongside this, a candidate is able to use the technique and be thoroughly prepared for a competency based interview.

How do I prepare for a STAR interview?

Preparing for a STAR interview involves understanding the STAR method and practicing your responses using this method. The STAR method is a technique used to answer behavioural interview questions, which focus on your past experiences and how you handled specific situations.

Here are some steps to prepare for a STAR interview:

 
1. Research the company and the job: Learn as much as you can about the company, its culture, values, and mission. Study the job description and identify the key skills and competencies required for the position.

2. Use the STAR method to structure your responses: For each potential question, think of a specific situation you faced, the task or challenge you had to complete, the action you took, and the result or outcome of your actions.

3. Practice your responses: Practice answering the potential questions out loud using the STAR method. Focus on being concise, specific, and highlighting your accomplishments and contributions.

4. Be ready to adapt: Although you can prepare for potential questions, the interviewer may ask you something unexpected. Be ready to adapt your responses and use the STAR method to structure your answers.

5. Bring supporting materials: Bring copies of your resume, portfolio, or any other supporting materials that showcase your achievements and experiences.
worksheet star interview method

STAR interview method

The STAR interview format is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The question will be posed as a scenario Eg. Tell us about a time when you were required to meet a tight deadline.

S – SITUATION This is where you describe your answer, giving context as relevant of what was happening, why was it happening, who was involved and where. 

T – TASK What was the task that needed to be undertaken in this situation, the challenges and level of responsibility for the task sent.

A – APPROACH How did you carry out the task, what steps did you take and the what skills were used? This section is all about you. 

R – RESULTS What was the positive outcome? Can you make your results quantifiable?

STAR technique & competency based interviews

Competency based interview questions are situational questions that require an example from the candidate’s previous work experience. A STAR technique response to the question will provide an easy to follow story of what happened in the role, how tasks were approached and the successful completion of the tasks.

From a candidate’s perspective it isn’t easy to guess the questions that might come up in an interview, by being asked to prepare using the STAR technique they will feel better able to answer anything that might be asked about their work history.

Below is an explanation of the STAR technique structure and an example response. The example answer is in response to the scenario question ‘Give an example of completing a recruitment process within deadline’. The response should demonstrate the competency of delivering tasks at pace.


STAR interview questions and answers examples

It is difficult to know what questions you might be asked in an interview however scenario based questions will be centred around the key skills featured on the job description. 

Typically, they will be problem solving, prioritisation, a time when you demonstrated leadership skills or performed under pressure. Your responses should always include a positive result or outcome. 

The sections that require the most amount of preparation and evaluation time are action and results as this is where skills and contribution are demonstrated In the action section of your response it is important to focus on what you did specifically rather than the team. Remember that it is you that will be bringing skills to the position rather than the team.

For this answer we will be using example from when a Recruitment Consultant needed to hit a deadline.

 

SITUATION – In my most recent role I was responsible for project recruitment. Shortly after joining the company there were three open vacancies for a project.

TASK – The time frame to complete the recruitment from advertisement through to on-boarding was four weeks. This would ensure that the new starters could join the project before work commenced.

APPROACH – To begin with I mapped out the recruitment process and assigned internal deadlines to each stage. I led weekly team meetings in order to keep up to date on progress and communicate effectively regarding interview and induction schedules.

RESULTS – All three positions were recruited within the four week time frame and the project was also successful. One of the team members was offered a permanent position at the end of the project, which they were delighted with.

 

The STAR interview format is used by many employers during the interview process to assess a candidate’s ability to handle specific situations and challenges in the workplace. 

By providing clear and concise responses using the STAR format, you can demonstrate your relevant skills and experience, and showcase your ability to think critically and problem-solve effectively.

For further information on interview preparation and the STAR technique watch our recent webinar – Perfect Your Interview Technique – STAR Technique Guidance and More:

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