Light up the sky (and your job interview) with the STAR Technique


star techniqueHave you scored a job interview and have been advised it’s going to be competency based?  A competency-based interview is used by employers to evaluate how a candidate behaves in certain situations, rather than testing their technical or practical ability. Interviewees are asked to structure their answers using situational examples. This might sound difficult, however there is a great method that can be used to help you structure your answer to a competency-based question; the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Results) Technique. Using the STAR Technique will help you plan focussed and structured answers which will help demonstrate the competencies you need to achieve success in your interview. Note that good answers should take no more than 2-3 minutes.

The STAR Technique

Here is how to use the STAR Technique to structure your answers:

Situation – describe a situation or problem that you have encountered

Task – describe a task that the situation required or ideas for resolving the problem

Action – describe the action you took, obstacles that you had to overcome

Results – highlight the outcomes achieved

  • The first thing you have to do is to find a context or an environment that allows you to answer the question or describe your skill. This is the start of your answer, and it should be short, sharp and succinct.
  • The next thing you should talk about is what you had to do. This should link to the question you are being asked and the skills required by the job. Again, this can be fairly brief.
  • Be specific and describe a task that you handled well. Try to choose a task that is as similar as possible to ones that you would encounter at the job you are seeking.
  • You can talk about the situation and the task together in order to set the scene.
  • This is the important bit as it will tell the interviewer exactly what YOU did. For some employers the context is less important than what you actually This is because they think that you will be able to apply the same process of team working or problem solving to different situations.
  • Describe, in detail, the positive and appropriate action you took to resolve the issue or complete the task.
  • This means that this section will be longer than the others. To provide the detail you may need to reflect on what you did. Do this by breaking it down step by step.
  • Remember to tell them what you did, especially when explaining how you work in a team (not what the team did).
  • Explain what the result was. Ideally the result of your action should be positive but if it is negative make sure you describe what you have learnt and what you would do differently next time.
  • Describe the result and quantify it if possible. The potential employer is looking to see what benefit to the company your actions had.
Rehearse your answers

Now you have thought of your answers, it may help to write them down and put them on a crib sheet using the STAR Technique, bullet pointing a few lines or key words for each letter. Once you have done this, start reading your answers out loud. The more you say them the more likely you are to remember them.

See if you can ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you. If this isn’t possible, just practice the answers out loud in front of a mirror. A lot of people put time and effort into interview preparation, but when they get into an interview, they start answering questions and become flustered because they are not used to hearing themselves saying the answers. Time yourself, record yourself use voice notes and play yourself back. Only you can be your best critic.

Renovo is the UK’s leading specialist provider of outplacement support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you, please email

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