CREDITS
HAYS
By SUSIE TIMLIN, Chief Operating Officer

During interview questions and answers, it is easy to simply list why you’re right for the job. Giving vague answers is a common trap that many candidates fall into, especially when they are feeling nervous.

The STAR method is one of the strongest interview techniques for giving good answers By following this method, candidates can provide structured and engaging interview answers. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.

THE STAR METHOD IN PRACTICE 

Many interview questions, particularly competency-based ones, gather evidence of the skills a candidate claims to have. A STAR technique interview is an excellent method of providing this information without going off on a tangent. For instance:

“You mention here on your CV that you have excellent verbal communication skills. Can you describe a time when these skills were particularly useful?” 

S: Situation. Describe the situation and set the scene 

Start by explaining the circumstances of your example. Outlining the situation ensures that the interviewer can understand why your skills and experiences were key in this situation. Provide specific relevant details, but avoid adding too much fluff or personal opinions.

An example interview answer opener might be:

“During my time at X, we launched a brand new product. I was going to pitch this product to the Marketing Director of one of our clients.”

T: Task. Explain the task you undertook in this situation 

Next explain your task or role in relation to those circumstances. Clarify how you handled the situation and some of the initial thought-processes that you followed. Use this part of your answer to specify how your skills were useful. For example:

“As Sales Executive for this product, I wanted to present this pitch. My presentation needed to convey the unique selling points of this product, and how it would benefit the business. At short notice I learned that two of our client’s sales directors wanted to sit in on this presentation too.”

A: Action. Describe the action you took

Now explain what action you actually took during this task. List your skills explicitly, to confirm how this action involved your professional abilities. A good answer might include:

“Therefore, I adapted my communication style so that I was addressing multiple people in the room. I also tweaked some of the language used during the presentation. I removed some of the jargon, so that my presentation made sense to both marketing and sales professionals.”

R: Results. Showcase the results of the action 

Finally, discuss the key takeaways of your action. Make it clear how your skills created a positive result. You can also mention what you learned from the experience. Don’t be shy to celebrate what you accomplished. If you can, include specific metrics as well. For example:

“As a result of the successful pitch, I secured an initial order for this product. This order increased our monthly revenue by 25 percent. In addition, my presentation generated some great feedback from the two additional sales directors in particular.” 

WHY THE STAR TECHNIQUE WORKS

By following the STAR technique when answering interview questions, you prevent yourself from going off topic. Adhering to this technique will also ensure that you structure your answer in a way that tells a story to the interviewer.

STAR formatted answer encourages you to focus your mind on the question. Focusing helps to make sure your answer is informative and the important part doesn’t become lost.

By practising this technique and preparing a few real life scenarios, you will also boost your own confidence. You’ll be reminding yourself of your unique skill set and all the successes you have achieved so far in your career.

It’s important to remember that you can include adversity or talk about a time you failed. Being open will make you appear more sincere and will humanise you in the eyes of the interviewer.

Ahead of the interview, make sure you are familiar with your CV and the types of interview questions. Practise your interview answers, sticking to the STAR technique. Once you are in the interview room, keep this structure in the front of your mind.

Remember to still be natural and conversational in tone, even when following a STAR structure. Make sure your answers flow naturally, otherwise you might appear robotic or too over-rehearsed. Following the STAR method will allow you to answer each question fully without rambling. You’ll also showcase why you are perfect for the role. 

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