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The STAR Method A Great Way to Structure Your Job Interview

The STAR Method A Great Way to Structure Your Job Interview

It’s a clichéd expression, but, as with most other clichés, it’s undeniably true: “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” With this in mind, assuming you’re serious about filling the vacancy, you’ll be looking at drafting up a few answers to questions that are likely to come up well in advance of any job interview you might be called to.

But how to go about putting the ideal answers together? Most interviewees are well aware of the most common questions that companies are prone asking. Most also understand which practical skills and personal qualities their answers are supposed to demonstrate. Unfortunately, far fewer candidates have a good grasp of how to actually structure their answers.

Whilst, there is no fail safe way to go about answering every single question that might come up in an interview, especially as some of the firms out there have a propensity for throwing the odd curve ball into the mix, there is a simple formula which you can use for any answer that requires you do draw on a specific past experience with an anecdotal answer.

This technique is called the STAR approach. STAR is an acronym. It stands for; Situation, Task, Action, Result. These provide four sections you should include in your answer when asked to describe personal experiences when asked questions such as ‘describe a time you oversaw a project’ or ‘when have you used organisational skills in the past?’

S – Situation

This will make up at least 20% of your answer. Use this first section to set the scene and explain the context of the details of the example you are about to give.

T – Task

Use 10% of your answer to describe the task in question. Give details about what you set out to achieve and why, explaining whether the challenge was set by another or if it was a self appointed goal.

A – Action

This is the most important section. At least what half of what you say has to be directly aimed at explaining the action you took, the reasoning that informed your decision to do what you did, and the skills you employed to turn the plan into a reality.

R – Result

Dedicate the last 20% of your reply to discussing the outcome of the project. Obviously, it’s good if you can give an example were the outcome was exactly what you’d been hoping for, but any reasonable employer will understand that this isn’t the case. If you have to give example where not everything went to plan, employers are will still be happy as long as can you demonstrate in an intelligent way that you learnt from the experience in some way and gained a decent level of insight what went wrong.

A final tip that you should look to apply to answers of this kind is to try and use numbers wherever possible. Saying something like “the sales strategy I implemented lead to immediate results” isn’t particularly memorable. Saying “we saw a 10% rise is profits” is not only more memorable, it’s also more concise, easier to judge in a quantifiable way, and impossible to discount as mere waffle.

This methodology is not only effective in job interviews, but is also a great template to go buy if you are putting together a written answer for an application form or other form of online interview.



This entry was posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 at 8:45 am and is filed under Career, Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Resume Help, Resume Advice. Learn
and avoid these biggest resume mistakes
Resume Help, Resume Advice. Learn
and avoid these biggest resume mistakes