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How the STAR Technique Can Be Used for Competency-Based Interview Questions

There’s a lot that goes into a job interview, and most of them will have a section that focuses on behavioural questions. These questions are used to assess a candidate’s experience and qualities, and they are worded in a way that encourages the candidate to give a detailed ‘story’ style answer. It’s important for candidates to answer STAR questions in a way that highlights their strengths, the details of what happened and what happened as a result of their actions. Below, we have taken a look at how the STAR interview technique can help in a competency based interview.

Understanding the STAR Technique

The STAR technique is split into four steps and it’s a technique of answering questions. It stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It requires a candidate to describe the Situation, explain the Task and the goal, give details on the Action they took to resolve the situation, and the end Result.

It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the job description before your interview, as a lot of competency based questions are centred around the competencies listed there. By taking the time to familiarise yourself with the competencies, you can prepare for the questions beforehand. It’s lilley that all candidates will be asked about communication, teamwork and negotiation skills. In these situations, you can use the STAR technique to detail past relevant experiences in the workplace. 

Situation - This section is where you set the scene of the task and give a little bit of background, such as the details of the project and who you were working with. 

Task - This section is where you explain your role within the situation and you highlight what you did. Instead of focusing on the team, focus on your specific task.

Action - This section is where you detail how you handled a problem and overcome the hurdles in front of you, highlighting whether you did this solo or as part of a team. This is where you should convey how you correctly assessed and responded to a problem. 

Result - This section is where you detail the positive outcome of your actions, how the problem was solved and anything you learned from the experience. If there are statistics, showcase these to quantify your success. For example, you could detail how sales increased by 15% thanks to your actions.

How to Prepare for a Competency-Based Interview

There are lots of things you can do to prepare for a competency-based interview, some of which we have listed below.

  • Make a mental note of recent situations where you have had to demonstrate capabilities related to the job you are applying for, such as problem solving and leading a team. Ensure you are able to talk about these situations and you have details to share.
  • When you are answering a question make sure it has a beginning, middle and an end. Describe the Situation, Task, Action and Result.
  • Interviewers will have interviewed a whole host of candidates, meaning they can tell when someone is exaggerating a story or failing to report something important. So, always be forthright in your interview answers and avoid embellishments.
  • You can still talk about situations that didn’t have a positive result, as long as the outcome reflects positively on you and your workplace abilities. Though a situation may not have been resolved in the way you had hoped, it could still highlight your capabilities and competencies as an employer.
  • Have multiple situations to talk about and avoid using the same example multiple times. This gives you a better chance of being able to highlight a variety of capabilities and competences, rather than simply recounting the same ones.

STAR Interview Question Examples

  • Tell me about a difficult moment you faced at work, how did you solve the problem?
  • Describe a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work, how did you handle this?
  • Talk about a mistake you have made at work, what did you do to rectify it?
  • Tell me about a situation where you used data to make a recommendation at work.
  • Describe a time when you had to make a tough decision at work, how did you make it?
  • Explain a situation where you have to make a split second decision, how did you do it?
  • Talk about a time you set a goal and then went on to achieve it, how did you do this?