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The STAR method: the key to acing your interview!

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Reaching the interview stage of any job application is a great success. However, it also means the hard work has just begun. It is important to be prepared for your interview and be able to demonstrate your skills and experience. This is where the STAR method comes in.

So what is STAR?

STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result


Preparing for your interview with the STAR technique is a sure fire way to guarantee that you make the most of your experience when showing your potential employer that you have their desired attributes. The technique is most helpful for the competency or behavioural questions that come up in most interviews. For example, you may be asked to tell the interviewer about a time in your work life where you have shown good leadership. Hiring managers use these questions to assess your experience and qualities. These questions are designed to prompt story-like responses of an experience which demonstrates a particular skill.

To guarantee success in these competency questions you should structure your story-like answer around STAR. Using the technique ensures you provide all the essential details of how you demonstrated the employer’s desired quality in a particular situation.

How does STAR work?

To get to grips with this let’s break down each part of the acronym:

Situation: Set the scene of the story by giving a context and the background of the situation. If you are asked about leadership, then include details of the project you were working on and how many people you were managing.

Task: Describe your exact role or responsibility in the situation. Make sure that the interview knows what you were specifically assigned to do, rather than what everyone did.

Action: This step is a crucial part of the story. Here, you explain how you handled the difficult situation or conquered the problem and how this demonstrates the attribute in question. Share as many details as possible so the interviewer can follow you and avoid company-specific jargon.

Result: Close the story by stating the positive outcome of your actions and what lessons you learned. If possible, quantify the results and show the effects of your actions.

Now let’s see the STAR steps put into practice.

Here is an example of a STAR answer from jobsite Indeed.

Q: Tell me about a recent mistake you made. How did you handle it?

A: I was the assistant property manager of a real estate firm, and I was responsible for arranging a home viewing. One lady liked the house that was vacant. She paid the deposit and said she would be moving in two days' time. Unfortunately, I didn't book her and I assigned the same house to another tenant. I realized the mistake on the day she was supposed to move in, rushed to the apartment block, found another apartment with faulty lighting. I called the local electrician to fix the problem and ensured the house was cleaned up properly.

I called the lady and explained that there was a mix-up. After apologising, I asked her if she could move into another apartment that was just as spacious as the one she had booked. Lucky for me, she didn't object. I told my boss, and he was pleased that I acted fast. I have been extra careful to record important details, and I have never made that mistake again. [Indeed]


With these tips and examples you will be able to ace competency-based interview questions and shine like a STAR.