The S.T.A.R Technique

The S.T.A.R. technique does not refer to the stars in the sky. S.T.A.R. is an acronym which stands for:

S - Situation
T - Task
A - Action
R - Result

The S.T.A.R. technique is used to answer interview questions that test your behavioural competence and showcase your personality to recruiters in interview settings.

Most times, the questions are fashioned as 'Tell us about a time you...' or 'Describe a situation where you were...'. They are used when interviewers want to rate your self-awareness and knowledge about your soft skills like teamwork, negotiation and communication.

These questions examine the skills you claimed to have a mastery of in your CV. When asked questions like this, the interviewers are not looking for direct answers, but want to hear of how you handled past experiences in either your former job roles or previous organizations or even volunteer work you were a part of.

In preparing for any interview, you can be sure that competence-based questions are 'a sure thing'.

Several HR personnel recommend and attest to the validity of this technique because it gives an avenue to sell your capabilities in a natural state that can be appreciated by the interview panel.

To make the best use of the S.T.A.R. technique, the first step before the interview is to make a list of all the types of questions you might be asked based on the skills listed in the job description. After listing out all the possible questions, try to answer the competence based questions in your list with this technique. At its best, the S.T.A.R. structure is not noticed and comes out as a well-thought-out example. Create and practice a good number of answers so that in a live-interview, it comes out as natural as possible.

S - Situation:

This is the first step and it is also very important. Your aim in this step will be to give your story a backdrop or background that demonstrates the significance of the circumstance.

You are about to tell a story and the easiest stories to tell are stories that have a good introduction. So make sure to fill in correct details of the project you are trying to describe like who you worked with, and when the project happened etc.

T - Task:

This will be more specific as you will be required here to state what your role was in the team. One thing to note here though is that the interviewer is more concerned about the tasks you were assigned rather than those for the rest of your team.

A - Action:

This is the most important part as it is where the answer to the question asked is. Also remember that the focus here is you, so remember to use the 'I' pronoun instead of the 'we'.

Now you are permitted to show off, but don't show off so much so that the event starts to sound like heresy and then you are faced with another uphill task of trying to redeem your integrity before your interviewers.

Also don't be scared to show how you involved other members of your team into the task as it is an avenue to show off your communication and teamwork skills. After all, no one shines alone.

R - Result:

The result should be quantifiable and if possible be positive. Your interviewers will best be convinced by your statement of the lessons you learned from undertaking that task.

However, if the results were negative, the interview panel will be best concerned with what you will do differently if faced with a similar situation again. In other words, with a negative output, you should demonstrate what lessons you learnt from the event and how you used or plan to use those learnings in later events to make something good.

Here’s a good example of the STAR technique:

At an interview with one of Nigeria's top tier banks, Nneka was asked, 'Tell of any time in your work history where you had to complete a task under a tight schedule?' Already armed with an answer using the S.T.A.R. Technique, her answer was easy and this was her reply:

S: Though I typically like to plan my work out in stages and complete it piece by piece, I can also achieve strong results under a tight deadline. Once at a former company, an employee left days before a big project of his was due.

T: I was asked to take over, and still complete the project in the stipulated time with only a few days left for completion.

A: I created a task force of three dedicated and hardworking individuals who I knew would see the project through; and delegated work to best harness their individual potentials.

R: And at the end, we all completed the assignment right on deadline, with all the elements necessary to make the project completely available. I think I tend to thrive under tight deadlines.

Interviews can be fun and with the correct use of the S.T.A.R. technique, and other tips we shared in and you are bound to leave the interview venue with a huge smile plastered on your face.

At Kigenni, we can help you get your foot in the doora!

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