STAR technique

Using the STAR technique in competency-based interviews

6 months ago by Claire Smith

​There are many different interview types and styles used by hiring managers these days, from informal chats to formal assessment centres, so it’s hard to prepare yourself for all possibilities.

One type of interview that is very common, however, is the competency-based interview. Typically the interviewer will ask each candidate the same set of questions to make the job application process as objective as possible. Questions are derived from a competency framework made up of skills that are required to do the job, for example problem-solving or decision-making.

Questions generally start by asking you to “Tell me about a time when...” This sounds simple at first but, under the stress of an interview situation, it can be difficult to structure an answer properly to ensure that you include all of the key points and enough detail.

We recommend approaching this type of question by using the STAR acronym to structure your answer.

What is STAR?

SITUATION – Set the context for your example. Where were you? Who else was involved? What was at stake?

TASK – Explain what was required of you. What was your responsibility in the scenario? Name others involved and their role in relation to you.

ACTIVITY – Outline what you actually did, particularly if you went above and beyond your area of responsibility. What did you come up against? What were the challenges? How did you approach the problem? Be specific in your examples to give the story more credibility.

RESULT – Share the successful outcome. How did your input help? What did you learn? What were you most proud of? What challenges did you overcome? Make sure you end on a positive note.

Interview preparation

If you spend some time before the interview thinking of possible competency-based questions and planning your structured answers, it will help you to articulate it more naturally in the actual interview. Google will give you lots of examples but here are a few to start with:

“Tell me about a challenge you faced in the workplace and how you overcame it.”

“Give me an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace.”

“Tell me about a time your communication skills improved a situation.”

“Give me an example of a change you have experienced in the workplace and how you handled it.”

“Tell me about a time that you solved a problem to a tight timescale.”

Part of the service we provide our candidates with is to find out what interview style the client will be using so that we can guide you on what to expect and help you with your interview preparation. View our current list of vacancies or get in touch on 01780 480530.