STAR Method for Interview Questions


The STAR method is the best way to answer competency based job interview questions. In this post, I’m going to cover what a competency based questions is and how you can use the STAR method to answer one.

Competency and Behavioural questions

In a job interview you are likely to be asked a competency or behavioural based questions, such as:

“Tell me about a time you led a team”

“Describe how you overcame a challenge”

The STAR method answer does this through you providing a real life example showing your experience. Your example will allow the interviewer to access your ability in this skill.

For example, skills could include:

  • Project planning
  • Computer skills
  • Customer service
  • Team working

For behaviours this could be:

  • Your enthusiasm to providing support for people
  • How you deal with pressure
  • The approach you adopt respond to a tough challenge

Demonstrating these skills or behaviours through examples gives an indication of your performance. That’s important as for employers past performance gives an indication of how you might perform in the new job.

The format of a Competency question

Competency questions follow a format. During the interview, watch out for these key phrases:

  • “Tell me about a time when…”
  • “Give an example…”
  • “Describe a time you…”
  • “How do you…”

The STAR Format

Answer Competency based questions using the STAR format. STAR stands for:

The image has the word STAR in yellow - describing the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) interview method for answering competency questions.
The STAR Method
  • Situation – The context of the example or environment
  • Task – Your objective, goal of challenge to overcome or challenge to solve
  • Action – What you did to achieve the goal or solve the problem
  • Result – The outcome of your action

STAR answer example

Imagine you were asked:

“Describe how you would deal with a difficult customer”

Let’s say you had experience working in a supermarket or retail.

Situation: worked in a busy supermarket over the festival period, where stock levels of certain items where low.

Task: I had to deal with a disgruntled customer who came to complain about the  lack of stock for a popular birthday cake for their child birthday.

Action: I listened to their complaint, ensuring to understand their frustration. I apologised for the stock levels, explaining the busy period had led to this line being sold out. After that, I then asked questions to understand why that cake was important to them, therefore understanding their needs. I checked out our online ordering system for cakes. I suggested a pirate ship cake for the birthday. This was perfect as their son was into pirates.

Result – As a result, the customer ordered the cake and following my suggestion bought a series of pirate themed chocolates and toy swords – leaving very happy.

In this example you’ve demonstrated the ability to:

  • Sympathise
  • Recognising customer needs
  • Solving the customer problem using your company knowledge
  • Great customer service

It’s that simple! If you want to practice answering questions in the STAR Format, why not book a video mock interview? Check our packages and book by filling out our booking form.

If you want to see more tips for interview success check out our new Youtube Channel: Mock Interviews

All the best.


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