The STAR Technique

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There are many different types of interviews; ranging from the free flowing, to the formal and at some point the competency based interview (CBI).

CBIs are designed to be as objective as possible; they remove any bias by the interviewer as each candidate is asked the same questions. You might feel that these types of interviews are not the best – mainly because they give you less of an opportunity to build a rapport. However, they are still very common and you need to be geared up for them in case they come to bite you!

These interviews usually start with, “tell me about a time when…” When you first hear this, you probably think – well how hard can it be to share my experience? Actually, in the heat of the interview, it can be difficult. It’s easy to give an unstructured answer and leave out key details and go off on a tangent and not focus on the question.  So how do you avoid this then people?

I’ll tell you – you use the STAR technique!! Here is an example of how you may structure your answer. So, someone for a Product Design role may be asked; ‘tell me about a time that you solved a problem within a set timeframe.’ Here is an example of how you could possible answer this;

  • Situation: set the scene of the story. ‘We were due to deliver a presentation to 40 delegates on the new product we had launched. Maria, who was due to deliver this, was stuck in standstill traffic.’
  • Task: what was required of you? ‘It was my responsibility to find an alternative to ensure it did not reflect negatively on the company and the launch of the product, and also it did not waste the time and expectations of those who had attended.
  • Activity: what you actually did. ‘I spoke to the event organiser to find out whether the running order for the presentation could be changed. They agreed to do this which gave me some time to put something in place. I contacted Joseph; another member of the team and asked if he could step in. He agreed to stop what he was doing and give us a hand.
  • Result: how well the situation played out: ‘Maria did not make the presentation, but I was honest and explained this to the delegates. Joseph’s presentation went well and was warmly received. Maria made it for the last 15 minutes and was able to answer any questions. As a result of this, we obtained some good contacts that have now turned into consumers.

If you apply this at its best, the listener remains oblivious to the fact you are using the STAR technique as it comes across as a well-articulated example. Make sure you have prepared a few answers using this format – this will help you remain calm, you won’t struggle, you won’t stutter and come across as nervous – instead you will nail the interview!

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