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  • Sandra Laws - Career Coach

How to Use the STAR Technique to Answer Interview Questions

There is a high probability that you will be asked competency or behavioural interview questions in your next job interview. I know that from my experience as a career coach, it is the competency interview question that many people struggle with. I am going to show you how to use the STAR Technique to answer a common competency interview question that will transform your interview performance. I am going to cover four elements to help you master the skill of using STAR to answer competency interview questions:

  • Why employers use competency questions and what is a competency question?

  • Your Interview Stories

  • What is the STAR technique?

  • Example competency or behavioural interview question with example answer.


Research shows that past performance is a strong indicator of how you are likely to perform in the future. Employers want to assess whether you can do the job. You must provide evidence of how you used specific competency skills in the past.

Competency based interview answers should be structured into a story that has 4 steps. The key element is of this approach is to frame your answer into a story.


  • Describe a situation where you went beyond the call of duty to help a customer.

  • Give me an example of how you worked in a team?

  • Tell me about a time when you failed to deliver a deadline?


Stories about your achievements are a powerful tool to sell your core skills. Stories are memorable and people engage with stories. Write down a list of your achievement stories that match the core competency skills in the job specification of the role you are being interviewed. Your interview stories should highlight how your key skills and achievements match the job description. To be effective, it is important that your stories stress the degree of difficulty, the complexity and urgency of the situation that you had to deal with.


The STAR technique is an effective method to frame your answers. The formula is an acronym for the key four steps: Situation, Task, Action and Result. Each step helps you to develop a strong answer. This technique will keep you on track and you will be less likely to go off the topic when answering a competency-based question. The STAR method outlined below will also help you to easily organise your thoughts.


Briefly describe the situation you had to deal with. Set the scene and background. What was your job title and responsibilities in this situation? TIP: describe the level of difficulty or urgency of the circumstances.


Describe the task that was required to manage this type of situation. TIP: What challenges did you face?


Describe what specific action you took to address the situation.


What was the impact of your actions on the situation and the other people involved?


Could you tell me about a time when you worked in a team to complete a project or company goal?



Whist working as an events assistant at a college, I was responsible for coordinating the arrangements for 120 delegates attending a conference. A member of the team was unexpectedly absent due to illness and I was responsible for covering her responsibilities.


My tasks was to organise my own heavy workload alongside the additional tasks for my colleague and I only had two days to pull everything together.


Firstly, I contacted the conference stakeholders to advise that I would be covering for my colleague. I outlined all the outstanding tasks to ensure all the objectives were clearly communicated. I asked two colleagues for help in preparing the delegate welcome packs and transport bookings. I put together an action plan to divide the workload.


I coordinated all the tasks and delivered a quality service to the delegates. Without the help of my colleagues, it would not have been possible to complete all tasks within the time frame. The delegates were impressed with the attention to detail during the conference. I gained new skills covering my colleague's workload.

As you can see, the STAR technique provides an easy framework to guide you through each step of your interview answer. The Action and the Result steps are the most important and require an in-depth explanation of your approach in this situation.

Don’t worry if you find it difficult to remember all of the four steps. I would also recommend using the CAR acronym: Challenge, Action, and Result.

Remember, always begin this process by writing down your all your interview stories before you write down you example answers. I hope this article helps you to prepare for your next job interview.

No one can cheat you out of your ultimate success but yourself – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

You will find more information, support, tips and guidance to nail the job interview in the weekly podcast: Jump Start Your Career.

How can I support you in 2023? What career goals are you working on right now? Book a free 30-minute consultation, email



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