Tutorial: How to be a STAR at an interview

When you're preparing for an interview, you need to know what you're going to say. 

Having a few examples up your sleeve of times when you've done things well is a big help. 

This is especially important if you're getting ready for a competency-based interview because you'll need examples to show what you're able to do. This is where the STAR technique comes in.

Be a STAR

The STAR technique is a simple way to help you structure your answers and show off your skills. This tutorial takes you through it in 5 simple steps. 

1. Find out what will be covered in the interview

For a competency-based interview, the employer might tell you what topics they'll cover. 

If not, you can get some clues from the job description. Read through it to find out the skills the role requires. Look for sentences like 'the right candidate will have excellent communication skills.'

From this, make a list of competencies or requirements you think will come up. 

2. Think of some examples

For each item on your list, try to think of 2 or 3 examples from your own experience.

Do not just think about work. You could also use examples from school, hobbies, volunteering or even your personal life. 

If you need some more help to pull out examples of your skills, visit our skills hub

3. Use STAR to structure your answers

Here's what each of the letters mean. 

S is for Situation 

This means, think of a time when you used the competency in question. What was happening? What was the problem you were facing? This is about setting the scene for the problem or situation you had to deal with. 

T is for Task

What did you need to do to solve the situation? Why did you decide to do that?

A is for Actions

What actions did you need to take to complete your task? What did you do that was different? Did you need to learn anything new?

R is for Results

What did you achieve by completing your task? What difference did it make to your employer? It's also good to talk about what you learned from this situation and how you would use that learning in the future. 

4. Put it all together

Now, put your STAR together. 

Here’s a quick example. 

Situation 

I had to give an important presentation to a client at work.

Task 

We had to tell them about a new product and hope they'd order some. 

Actions 

I researched the product thoroughly and talked to our design team to find out what was the most important features to highlight. I put together a presentation using PowerPoint and practised this in front of my team, asking them for feedback.

Result

In the end, I impressed our clients. I was able to answer all their questions and they put in a big order as a result. Plus, I was able to work with the same client on future pitches. 

5. Talk about negative results

Do not be afraid of using examples which did not turn out well. Show what you learned from the experience. Explain what went wrong, why it went wrong and what you would do differently next time.