23 Aug How to Use the STAR Interview Technique
Interviews can be intimidating and, when you’re nervous, it’s not always easy to think of a perfect answer to a question on the spot. That’s why we recommend preparing for potential questions beforehand (Have you read our blog post: The 6 Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer them?) But how do you actually prepare answers to questions like, “Can you give an example of when you improved systems or processes?” Here’s how to use the STAR technique to ensure your answers are structured and specific and can demonstrate the skills that make you the perfect candidate:
When exhibiting a skill to interviewers, you must first give them some context of the situation. You can only demonstrate how you improved a situation, for example, by first detailing what the situation was before you improved it. What was the problem you encountered and why was it such an issue? Explaining this will show how significant your action was. You must do this first before you go on to explain how you solved the problem.
Relating the goal you set yourself to address the situation indicates that you are a reflective individual who can effectively set goals to drive professional improvement. You can continue to demonstrate this quality later on when you explain the results of your action; whether you met your goal and what action you intend to take going forward. Be sure to detail how the goal was a SMART goal that was Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound.
Only once completing steps one and two can you begin to describe the action you took to address the situation and work towards your goal. Here is a perfect opportunity to exemplify skills like organisation, communication, teamwork, initiative, logic and creativity. Detail what you did, what resources you used and whether you collaborated with anyone.
Finally, end the anecdote with the results of your actions. Did you improve the situation? Did you achieve your goal? What could you have done differently and what were you going to do going forward? Again this shows you to be a reflective person but this step mainly gives substantial evidence that you are able to utilise important skills and effect positive change in a professional context.
Without using the STAR method your answers to interview questions may become vague with your qualities becoming lost in long, digressive responses. Giving detailed, concrete examples of when you have met the person specification for a role in a structured way, however, allows the interviewers to see that you would succeed in the position without merely having to take your word for it. The key to pulling this off in a pressured situation is practice and preparation, and now you know this invaluable interview technique, you can make a start!