If you’ve not used the S.T.A.R. technique as part of your interview preparation you could be missing out!  Seriously, this is a tried and tested method – by INTERVIEWERS!!!  So naturally it’s a worthwhile technique for you as interviewee to adopt.  And will help you effectively prepare and deliver your best performance to land your new job!

S.T.A.R. is a way to ask a job candidate questions and gain examples of particular work behaviours from their past.  The reason to do this is work behaviours and traits in the past/present tend to be a reliable indicator of future behaviours and performance.  For example, the interviewer asks “Tell me about a time when…..”.  Or, “can you give me an example when…”.  So the STAR model is a way to prepare and organise yourself effectively to handle and respond to these types of questions during interview.

I’m not going to rehash the model in too much detail as any quick search will give you more information and many other tips, but in summary the model is defined as follows:

  1. Situation: Your description of the Situation and context (the what, where, and how).
  2. Task: Explain what you did specifically and any constraints, deadlines, other issues.
  3. Action: Describe specific Actions you took.  This should provide examples of your key strengths and traits relating to the job you’re applying for e.g. (positive attitude, commercial awareness, influencing skills, team-working, leadership etc.)
  4. Result: Highlight the outcomes and implications of your Actions – What was achieved?

Whilst many people are familiar with the model, here are 3 important tips to ensure you use the model more effectively to help you stand out from the crowd.

Tip 1: Ensure Situation & Task outlines are concise and brief

You want to be able to reel off a STAR situation in around 3 – 5 minutes maximum.  The first 2 steps are important to set the scene and provide context but you want to focus on Action & Results.  Spending a full 5 minutes describing the context, and even tasks, is unnecessary and your interviewer may get bored and tune-out.  So find an example which is quick & easy to explain and/or try to greatly simplify it for them, especially if it’s technical.

Tip 2: Include quantifiable and objective measures when discussing Results

Results have a bigger impact when they are quantifiable.  Every job and role ultimately, either directly or indirectly, affects the bottom-line so whether it’s a cost reduction, an increase in revenue, reduction in complaints, increased staff satisfaction score, reduced staff turnover, process-improvement, you need at least three responses prepared where you can provide objective examples.

Tip 3: Include a carefully selected example of a situation where you failed and learned  

This takes a certain level of courage to do but says a lot about you if you are willing to do it.  The fact is that failure presents one of the best opportunities for learning and development, and is also just a plain fact of life, so to only discuss examples where you have succeeded or excelled is somewhat unrealistic and is also what most people will be doing.  So, this is another opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition for the job and showcases some rarer traits i.e. humility and honesty.

 As a closing comment, I’d also encourage anyone preparing for an interview to prepare well and to practice, practice, practice their STAR examples.  You will be much more confident and relaxed if you are organised and well-rehearsed.  And this is exactly how you want to be perceived by your potential new boss and employer! 

 I wish you all the very best of luck!