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Career Planning & Employability Interviews

Answer difficult interview questions: The STAR Technique

Are you a good communicator? The answer, of course, is yes; you’ll never be asked this in an interviewer and say no to this question. Which is why an employer will never ask you something like this. They’ll ask, instead, “Can you give me an example of a time when you have shown good communication skills?”

This is much harder. So how do you answer something like this? We use something called the STAR technique:

Situation

Task

Action

Result

Describe when you used the skill, the situation. Then, what were you trying to achieve using that skill? Next, the action – what did you do, and how did you do it? Finally, the result: what happened as a result of what you did?

This formula can really help to answer these questions, building an answer that demonstrates that you have the skill and experience they are looking for. As an example:

Can you give me an example of a time when you have worked as part of a team?

Consider these two responses:

I play football once a week as part of the University team. We’ve won eight out of ten matches this season.

I play football once a week as part of the University team. During matches, I listen to team-mates for instructions and pay attention to anticipate their next moves. I communicate with the coach about how I could play better and share ideas with the rest of the team. We’ve won eight out of ten matches this season.

You can see the difference here using STAR – it explains what the skill is by going into detail in the example, rather than just going through basics – it describes what the skill involves. Some of the best answers we’ve seen sound simple, like going into detail about how you use Google Calendar to organise your time, but doing this shows you actually understand the question and can back yourself up when you say you have the skill.

Practice and follow this formula, and while it does take some effort, you will be able to answer these challenging questions really well.

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