Be the star of any interview: how to ace the STAR technique
You’ve polished up your resume, written a stellar application, and landed an interview. Now what?
The interview can feel like the hardest part of the job search process. Until then, you’re working relatively solo – able to refine your CV and cover letter long before anyone else sees it. Being then thrust into a person to person situation can then be really scary!
One way to handle the pre-interview jitters is to prepare, prepare, prepare. If you have a template for answering questions, chances are they won’t catch you out. That’s where the STAR technique comes in. ⭐
What is the STAR technique?
The STAR technique is a framework you can use to answer behavioural questions in interviews. It’s a helpful tool that ensures you remember to mention all the important aspects of the example you’re giving.
STAR stands for:
S_ Situation – Describe briefly when and where the situation occurred and who was involved.
T_ Task – What were you trying to achieve? What was the problem or issue to be addressed?
A_ Action – What action did you take independently or to assist others to get a positive outcome?
R_ Result – What was the outcome of your actions? State your success and any positive feedback received or what you learned if the outcome was different to what was anticipated. Explain what you would do differently in the future.
So now you know what the STAR technique is, now let’s see what it can do for you.
When to use the STAR technique
The best time to use the STAR technique is when you’re asked behavioural question. These are the type of questions that don’t need a simple yes or no, but rather a detailed example or story.
Interviewers ask behavioural questions so they can understand more about your experience, as well as how you behave in different circumstances.
You’ll know you’re being asked a behavioural questions if they sound anything like:
- Describe a situation where…
- Give me an example of…
- Have you ever had the experience of…
- Tell me about a time that…
How to use the STAR technique
In short, how can you be the star of the show?
Easy! Let’s look at an example:
“Give me an example of a time when you made a mistake and how you responded.”
1. Using the STAR technique, we’ll start with the situation:
In my last role, I was made project lead for an online event we were running. I’ve worked with Zoom countless times, but somehow I managed to send out the incorrect link to over a hundred registered attendees.
2. Next, address the task:
I knew I had to act quickly, and get the correct link sent ASAP.
3. Then, talk about the action you took:
I responded by first finding the correct link and, using our direct mailing software, sent a professional email to all those registered apologising and correcting the mistake.
4. Finally, discuss the results of this action:
Luckily, my quick thinking worked out, and we ended up having 80% attendance and a net promoter score of 70. Upon reflection, I realised that I made this mistake because of the way I organised my information and disseminated it to the team. Since then, I have implemented a new system of communicating events information with the team, using Microsoft Planner, and am happy to say it has resulted in increased efficiency and productivity. Best of all, I know I won’t make that same mistake again!
Focusing most of your answer on the action and results will ensure those are the things that will stick in your interviewer’s mind. When you’re practising the STAR technique, ask yourself:
- Have you addressed the question?
- Have you linked the experience to the position you are applying for?
- What other competencies did you convey?
With these skills under your belt, you’re sure to be the STAR of any interview.
For even more interview tips, head to our resources page.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.