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Refreshing your interview skills with the STAR technique

While planning or preparing for your next job interview, consider how you might use the STAR approach to help you.

May 7, 2020

A notebook with sticky note markers of someone refreshing their job interview skills

One of the most common interview screening methods is behavioural-based interviewing. The purpose of this technique is to ascertain your skill compatibility, cultural fit and competency for the job. Often, you will be prompted by the interviewer to provide in-depth examples that demonstrate your ability to complete certain tasks or provide insight on how you would approach a scenario. By responding to these questions, you are providing insight and highlighting to the interviewer your key skills and attributes as well as your thought process and ability to problem-solve and think on your feet—key factors in the success of most jobs.

Preparation and research are key when interviewing; therefore, creating and practising answers to common behavioural questions that align to the role you are applying for can be helpful. Developing your experience in articulating your responses and rehearsing relevant examples of your experience could also help you better recall your examples in an interview situation.

Often, behavioural questions will begin with phrases like “Can you provide an example of…” or “Tell me about a time when…” But how should you answer behavioural questions? One technique is the STAR format, which breaks your answer into four key parts:

  • 'S' Situation: What’s the situation or issue you were faced with?
  • 'T' Task: What task was required from you to solve the issue?
  • 'A' Action: What action did you take?
  • 'R' Result: What was the result?

Here’s an example question that demonstrates how to use the STAR technique: Tell me about a time when you improved a process.

Using the STAR technique, you could respond as follows:

  • 'S' Situation: In my current role, generating the sales report required a manual process, and because of the many steps involved, it is very labour intensive and time consuming.
  • 'T' Task: I analysed the business and discovered that the sales reporting requirements incorporate assessing different variables that affect forecasting and sale results.
  • 'A' Action: I decided to create an automated report that could be utilised across various reporting objectives including forecasting that required minimal input.
  • 'R' Result: I improved the accuracy of forecasting by X% and reduced reporting time by X hours per week, which resulted in savings of X amount per week.

In this example, using the STAR format allowed the interviewee to articulate their ideas, thoughts and experiences.

Aside from STAR, there are other techniques that you can use to answer behavioural interview questions. They are called SOAR and CAR. SOAR stands for Situation, Obstacles, Action and Result while CAR means Challenge, Action and Result. Whether you choose to use either STAR, SOAR or CAR, having a technique will assist you in answering behavioural interview questions effectively. For more examples of behavioural interview questions or for further support in preparing for your next interview, contact your TEKsystems representative.