How to Use the STAR Technique in Interviews

The STAR technique for successful interviews outlines the most important elements an interviewee should factor into the preparation for any successful job interview. This technique is often referred to as the SAR and PAR techniques as well but essentially deals with the same elements. STAR is an abbreviation of the following:

S (Situation) & T (Task)

This question asks you to provide a situation that you were personally involved in or a task that you needed to accomplish. This can be from a previous role in another job or from a personal experience from your own life that can illustrate and answer what the interviewer is asking you. Detail is important when answering the question as the interviewer is trying to find out about your personal skill set and approach to challenging tasks.

A (Action) & R (Results)

This is where you outline to the interviewer exactly how you approached the problem, what way you handled the issues or task at hand etc. This can involve a new system you put in place, how you project managed a task, how you interacted and delegated the various roles and responsibilities in order to get the job done. The last part of the question and the answer deals with the outcome or result from following the above approach. Were you successful? If yes, then why were you successful? If you weren’t successful, why not? Regardless of the success or failure of the outcome, what did you learn throughout the whole process?

Which questions need a STAR response?

STAR response questions are usually phrased in a format such as “Tell me about a time when…” so you should see them coming fairly easily. For example, for risk management jobs you may be asked something such as “tell me about a time when you had to seek help when managing a project”.  Keep the above abbreviations in mind and follow the approach in the method shown. Clear and concise answers and sticking to the question asked will demonstrate your ability to answer what was asked of you rather than the question you hoped to be asked or that you thought you were asked.

Another well-known and successful interview technique (for both interviewers and interviewees alike) is the SHARE Model. This is similar to the STAR method but with a couple of extra elements added to it.

S- Situation:  Outline to the interviewer a specific situation where you were faced with a task or situation in which you had to deal with and follow towards a successful outcome.

H-Hindrance: Describe any barriers or hindrances that you came across in your approach to reach a successful outcome.

A- Action: Outline to the interviewer the action you took to ensure the positive outcome. Be specific and demonstrate your range of skill sets to them.

R-Results: Discuss the outcome of the task and highlight how it was achieved by following your approach the hurdles encountered during your approach.

E – Evaluate: Explain what you have learnt during the whole process. Acknowledge your successes but don’t be afraid to also discuss areas that you may have been able to achieve greater results by adopting a different approach. Constructive criticism towards one’s self tells an interviewer a lot about yourself and being able to learn from a life task after completion again shows a potential employer a lot about you and your personality.

By following these approaches and keeping in mind what the interviewer is trying to find out, you will be able to answer the question asked without forgetting the important points. Understanding this approach, used the world over by the majority of HR managers & business owners will give you the competitive edge over your fellow candidates and give you the best possible chance of success on job interview day.