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. 

It's especially important if you're getting ready for a competency based interview. That means you need examples that show what you're able to do. This proves you have the 'competency' to do the job.

Be a STAR

That's where the STAR technique comes in. It's a simple way to help you structure your answers and show off your skills. This tutorial takes you through it.

1

Find out what will be covered in the interview

First, you need to know what you'll need examples of. For a competency-based interview, the employer might tell you what they will be testing. 

If not, you can get some clues from the job description. Check through this for 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 two or three examples from your own experience.

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

Now, we can start using STAR to structure your answers. Here's what each of the letters means.

3

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?

4

T is for Task

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

5

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?

6

R is for Results

What did you achieve by completing your task? What difference did it make to your employer?

7

Put it all together

Now, put your STAR together. 

Here’s a quick example: 

  • I had to give an important presentation to a client at work. (Situation)
  • We had to tell them about a new product – and hope they’d order some. (Task)
  • I researched the product thoroughly. I talked to our design team and found what the most important features to highlight were. I put together a presentation using Powerpoint. Then I practised this in front of my team and asked them for feedback. (Actions)
  • In the end, I impressed our clients. I was able to answer all their questions. They put in a big order as a result. Plus, I was able to work with the same client on future pitches. (Result) 

Talking about negative results

Don’t be afraid of using examples which didn't turn out well. Show what you learned from the experience. Explain what went wrong, why it went wrong and what you would do different next time.