The STAR Approach

If a prospective employer has invited you for an interview, it means that the skill set you presented on your CV matched the requirements of the role – great! Now it’s your job to expand on your CV and explain to the employer exactly why you’re the best fit for the position.

But do you know how to talk about your accomplishments and abilities convincingly?

The STAR approach is the ultimate interview-response technique that will help you craft strong, concise and persuasive answers.

The STAR Approach

The STAR technique is a systematic method for answering interview questions. The acronym stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Each of the four concepts refers to a discussion point in your answer. The idea is that by addressing all four points systematically, you’ll provide a thorough response. Let’s take a deep dive and review what each step entails.

Situation

In this first section, set the scene. Describe the situation you were in and be as specific as you can. You don’t want the interviewer to misunderstand the context of the task you’re about to expand on.

Task

Next, tell the interviewer what you were tasked with, whether that be a goal you were working towards or your responsibility in the situation. Remember to explain what was required of you individually, rather than your team.

- Choosing the best company for your standards

You should choose the company depending on:

  • The company culture.
  • The reputation.
  • Review the customer’s feedback. 
  • Contact with one of its employees.
  • Read the job offer carefully.
  • Try to contact the HR employee.

 

You should do all of these points mentioned above before applying for the job.

Action

It is your chance to explain exactly what you did in response to the situation and task. Focus on what you did, referencing the skills you used along the way. In theory, they should be in line with the skills the interviewer is looking for.

Result

Zoom in on the results you generated and what you accomplished. Even if your task wasn’t a success, you might find there are benefits to explaining what you learned and what you’d do differently next time.

Here are a few examples:

  • Teamwork skills: ‘Describe a time you helped a co-worker succeed.’
  • Adaptability skills: ‘Tell me about a time a project didn’t go to plan.’
  • Communication skills: ‘How do you encourage your team to share ideas?’

An example of using the STAR approach in a job interview

To help you with your interview preparation, here’s an example of a competency-based interview question and a response that uses the STAR approach.

Question:

Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated with a prospect.

Situation: I had interest from a warm lead off the back of a whitepaper download. They were particularly interested in our platinum package, but they only had the budget for the gold.

Task: Rather than let the lead walk away and seek business from a competitor, I had to negotiate on a price and package to ensure the business and the prospect received a good deal.

Action: I started by assessing the prospect’s goals and strategy to confirm what they needed in a package. I also adopted a very human, real approach to build rapport. As a result, I was able to find out what they were currently paying elsewhere. I then leveraged our case by comparing our prices and services to our nearest competitors to prove why we stood out above the rest.

Result: Understanding that the lead could not afford the premium package but needed it, we negotiated on a one-off month-long premium contract with a 25 percent discount. This was only 7 percent more than the gold package. The prospect was so impressed with the results after one month that they increased their spend with the business and are now loyal customers.

 

Final thoughts on using the STAR Approach

You should now have a comprehensive overview of the STAR approach and how to apply it to an interview question. While best used for competency-based interview questions, you can easily use it to structure your behavioral-interview responses too. Just make sure you prepare thoroughly beforehand if you want to give a stellar performance.

Trust your abilities and Do it!

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