Tag Archives: interview prep

Interview Skills – Using the STAR Approach

Preparing for Interview? Try using the STAR Model!

From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarism_4/

Competency based interviews (or situational/behaviour interviews) are becoming the approach of choice for many employers. This type of recruitment process allows candidates to give situational examples of when they have achieved particular outcomes. Competency based interviews (CBI) are used as benchmarks for interviewers. Using this style of questioning means they can rate and evaluate candidates and their ability to fit into the new work environment instantly. This may seem daunting for many candidates particularly those who have no experience of CBI. Clearly, it is important for any candidate to be prepared.

An effective technique to employ when answering competency based questions is the “STAR” method. It allows you to focus your thoughts and structure your responses in a clear and concise way. This means you can further impress the interviewer by getting in additional examples for one question. It enables you to showcase your ability and demonstrate your Unique Selling Points (USP)!

How to Do It…

Job Description and Person Specification

Scan the Job Description and Person Specification of the role, then list the key elements of the role and identify key words that encapsulate each of the “Essential” and “Desirable” criteria. Keep these as short as you can. Once you have a list, begin to identify situations/examples and structure your responses.

The STAR Model

Against each of the key words/elements you have identified try and think of 2 (or even 3!) situations when you have demonstrated ability in each area. Using these situations, structure your responses as follows: 

Situation Set the scene.   Explain the situation you encountered.   It is important for the interviewer to engage and relate to your answer. Examples that are relevant to your potential employer are highly recommended.
Task Explain what part/role you took in the situation.
Action Explain the action you took to address the situation / perform the task. Ensure you are speaking only about you and avoid using “we” here.
Results Explain the outcome of your action i.e. how your work resulted in a positive outcome.  Close the loop!

Create a Bank of Examples

Further reduce your stress by creating a “bank” of examples, evidencing how you successfully demonstrated different competencies. Remember to close one STAR example before introducing the next. (E.g.  “ … A further example of XXXXXXX was when. ..”  (next Situation).

Competency based questions are a fantastic way to showcase your abilities and convince the interviewer that you are the perfect candidate!

No job description yet? Do some initial work. Here are some key competencies for you to consider:

  • Planning and Organising
  • Decision making
  • Motivation
  • Effective Communication
  • Responsibility
  • Problem solving
  • Organisation
  • Leadership and Management
  • Using initiative
  • IT skills and packages

Good luck!

This guest post was written by Karen Chubb, Professional Development Coordinator at the University of Cumbria.