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How do I use the STAR method to prepare for my competency based interview?

Many forward-thinking clients now utilise competency-based questions at interview. This allows the interviewer to glean real-life examples of relevant situations that are important to them when looking to recruit, as well as allowing the candidate to think freely about their experiences (work-related or not) and showcase their thought process and decision-making skills.

We took a deep dive into the STAR method of preparing for a competency-based interview which can be helpful when thinking through a comprehensive response.

The STAR format is one method for answering interview questions that assesses your experience in a given scenario. Thinking through the Situation, Task, Action, and Result will give the interviewer a clear specific, concrete example of how you’ve handled similar situations in the past (and gives you a great basis for talking about the experience).

Situation: Describe a specific situation or task you were involved in.

Task: Explain what you had to accomplish or achieve in that situation.

Action: Describe the specific steps you took to complete the task or resolve the situation.

Result: Explain the outcome of your actions and the impact it had on the situation or task.

When using the STAR format to answer interview questions, it’s important to be honest (as always). If you’ve actually experienced the situation you’re being asked about (in work, education, your personal life) you will find it easy to answer as you’ve lived the experience. Be honest and take a moment to think through when you have encountered the experience before answering and cover each of the points below.

  1. Be specific: Provide specific examples and details when describing your situation, task, actions, and results. This will help the interviewer better understand your experience and how it relates to the position you are applying for. 
  2. Keep it relevant: Make sure the examples you use are relevant to the job you are applying for. Use examples that demonstrate the skills the interviewer is looking for.
  3. Use active language: Use active verbs and descriptive language to describe your actions and the results of your actions.
  4. Practice: Practice answering interview questions using the STAR format before your interview. This will help you become more comfortable with the format and give you a chance to refine your responses.

Here’s a quick example of how you might answer the question “Can you give me an example of a project you’ve been responsible for in your previous employment”.

Situation: During my last job as a project manager, I was tasked with leading the development of a new website for the company.

Task: The task was to develop a new website that was user-friendly, responsive and met the company’s brand guidelines and also make sure it is completed within the budget and timeline

Action: To accomplish this task, I gathered requirements from all stakeholders, put together a project plan, and assembled a team of developers, designers, and QA testers. I also established clear milestones, timelines, and budgets for the project. Throughout the project, I regularly communicated with the team, stakeholders, and my manager to ensure that everything was on track.

Result: The website was launched on time and within budget, and received positive feedback from users, stakeholders and the management. The website also helped the company to increase its online sales by 15% in the first quarter after the launch.

By breaking down your answer into these four distinct areas you can ensure that the question is covered comprehensively and maximise your chances of being shortlisted (or offered) the job role.

If you’d like more tips and advice on ensuring your next interview goes well, check out our regular blog posts at


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