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Back to Basics – The STAR Interview Technique

As Talent Acquisition Manager at Frazer Tremble Executive, I have the pleasure of interviewing candidates daily. One thing I’ve noticed, regardless of seniority, is that candidates really struggle with behavioural-based questions. 

Interviewers love to ask behavioural questions because it links back to the old saying: “Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.” The key here is to showcase how you responded in a variety of situations and how this can translate to overcoming future challenges.

What does a behavioural style interview look like?

Behavioural questions are easy to identify as they typically start with phrases like: “Tell me about a time when…”, or “Describe…”, or “Give me a specific example of…”. 

The STAR method is the most simple and effective way to answer behavioural interview questions. While you won’t always know the exact interview questions ahead of time, you can prepare a list of career highlights that draws attention to your critical thinking, problem-solving skills, leadership ability, communication style, and ability to work under pressure to deliver results. 

Here are some tips on how to use the STAR technique to put your best foot forward:

What does a successful STAR response look like?

Situation

This is where you provide an introduction and set the scene. Similar to approaching a project for the first time, think about the 5 Ws:

  • What was your role?
  • Who was involved?
  • When did this happen?
  • Where were you working?
  • Why was there a problem?

Addressing these points in a simple sentence or two is the first step in capturing your audience’s attention. For example:

“In my last role as a Project Manager at a reputable transportation company, I worked alongside the leadership team to implement a sustainable booking solution, addressing the costly and complex nature of interspace travel between Earth and Mars.”

Task

Describe your responsibilities within the overall project. This is about focusing on your individual contribution, for example:

“I led a small project team of 4 and collaborated at an enterprise-wide level across the organisation to understand where the inefficient processes were.”

Action

What steps did you take to overcome the challenges? This is about showcasing your individual achievements, for example:

“Working with a team of analysts and developers, I oversaw the end-to-end lifecycle of this project. One of the most important initiatives I took involved presenting a training plan to ensure every department was familiar and comfortable with using the new system.”

Result

Describe the outcome by using qualitative examples – regardless of whether the project was a success or a failure. For example:

“The project was delivered on time and within budget. As a result, the company saw space travel bookings from Earth to Mars increase by 35% in the first 12 months after go-live. Due to the user-friendly interface and functionality, the next step has been approved to create a mobile and tablet application as well.”

Preparing for your next interview

As mentioned above, being ready for your next interview with a range of STAR responses in the form of project highlights will help you showcase your experience confidently and compellingly.

A great approach to prepare is to review the job ad or position description, identify the role’s key responsibilities, and consider the challenges that would be unique to that role. From this, you can craft STAR responses that show behaviours needed to overcome these challenges such as critical thinking, relationship building, teamwork, conflict resolution – tailor this list to the specific job.

Practising your responses in front of a mirror, video record yourself speaking, or asking someone for feedback are also helpful techniques to overcome anxiety and build confidence when preparing for your next interview.

Remember, if you’re struggling to come up with an example during your interview, it’s more than acceptable to take a few seconds to think. Just let the interviewer know you need a moment and use those few seconds to uncover the best example from the list you prepared earlier.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, following a structured response technique such as STAR will help you put your best foot forward and hopefully secure that dream role!

Frazer Tremble Executive is a full-service talent and customer consultancy that enable businesses to transform and grow. Whether it’s, Customer, People, Process or Technology change, you can count on our expertise in giving you the competitive edge to attract the right talent or find your next role.

Let’s connect!

Sanja Domazet

Talent Acquisition Manager 

Phone: 0436 811 619

Email: sanja@ftexecutive.com.au

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sanja-domazet/