How to excel in a Job Interview using the STAR answer method

When you are invited to an interview, you probably spend a lot of time preparing for it. You read about the company, you look at the description of the job and you re-read your application form or CV. If you haven’t used the STAR answer method, though, to prepare for an interview, then you’ve been at a distinct disadvantage.

When the Job Description is asking for someone with “Good Communication Skills”, you might get a question during the interview such as “Can you give an example of your communication skills?”

Some of the answers I’ve heard in interviews have been “I have really good communication skills and all my colleagues like me”, or “Good communication skills are very important and I always make sure that I email my manager about what I am doing.” Some candidates give a long list of their communication skills which remind me more of an explanation from a dictionary than a real example.

The STAR answer method is not rocket science, it is a simple way of structuring your answers to clearly demonstrate the many skills you have. More importantly, it is a method of giving the recruiter/employer/listener concrete evidence of your knowledge and experience.

S –Situation:       When and where you were working?

T-Task:                 What was the task/responsibility?

A-Action:             What did you do?

R-Result:             What happened? What was the result?

Using the STAR answer method, you give a structured example to help the recruiter to know that you are the right person for the job.

Imagine the interview is for a Team Supervisor and you are currently working in an administrative role. You can demonstrate your suitability for the new role by showing how you’ve developed in your current role:

“One recent example of my communication skills is from my current role as an Administrator with the SVC Group, where I’ve worked for the last 3 years. [SITUATION] I work in a team of 10 people and am responsible for the administration, which includes collating quarterly reports and chasing up monthly sales figures. [TASK] When I first started in this role, I communicated mostly through emails as the other team members were busy with appointments, but I’ve grown into my role and now I use varying forms of communication wherever needed. Last week, I rang one of the team members to catch up with what she has been working on and I reminded her of an upcoming deadline. I think it is important to see the person behind the sales figures because it makes the team stronger. [ACTION] As well as an email I had sent, she also appreciated my personal telephone reminder. I also took the time to listen to an issue she had had the week before. As a result of communicating in a similar way with all of the team members, I received the sales figures on time and my manager praised me in the last team meeting for my work.”[RESULT]

Can you see how a well-prepared, practised STAR answer gives a real, genuine example of your skills and helps the interviewer see what you can bring to their organisation? Using the STAR answer method can show the deciding person that you are by far the best candidate.

If you need help with this, a skilled Job Coach will give you practical experience of preparing these structured answers, in a safe and supportive space, through asking the right questions to find your very best examples. As a result, you will not only excel, but you will shine at your next job interview.


First published on LinkedIn, 26th October 2016

Photo credit: Clarisse Meyer through

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