How to Master the STAR Interview Technique
Spring has traditionally been seen as a time of new beginnings, and with many of us looking for a fresh start after lockdown, now is the perfect time to plan your next career move. Whether you’re an applications expert or a new job novice, a little pre-interview preparation can go a long way to achieving your goals and securing your dream role.
Knowing how to answer competency-based questions might just be the key to success for your next interview, veterinary or otherwise. And while we can’t provide you with the answers to use, we can make sure you approach each question the right way: it’s all about the technique.
The STAR technique is a simple and structured way of responding to a question that starts ‘tell me about a time you did X’. With the right preparation in place, this is your opportunity to showcase your accomplishments, skills and knowledge, and to demonstrate to the interviewer what a star you are!
The Acronym Stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR)
- Situation – think of this as ‘setting the scene’. Provide the interviewer with as much context as possible and increase the credibility of your story by including names and dates, where appropriate. Avoid generalised situations by describing a specific event from a previous employment, a work experience/voluntary placement, or any other relevant situation.
- Task – expand on the context you have provided and outline the task at hand. Include how important or difficult the task was to resolve, as well as any obstacles you came up against.
- Action – describe the actions you took to ensure a successful outcome. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Identify the skills the interviewer is looking for and reinforce them throughout your answer.
- Result – describe the outcome of your actions. Inform the interviewer of what it was you accomplished and the lessons you learned. Make your answer quantifiable, where possible, by backing it up with figures or statistics.
Tips for Preparing Your STAR Answers
Impressing at a competency-based interview requires preparation and lots of practice. Carefully analyse the position for which you are being interviewed and determine the skills required. Reflect on your background to identify experiences in which you have demonstrated these skills. Teamwork, leadership and initiative are three we’d recommend being prepared to demonstrate for every profession.
Then commit some real, quantifiable details to memory that could suit a range of situations. Don’t shy away from the truth: tell the interviewer about the challenges you faced along the way as it will help convince them of your sincerity. Omitting information may lead to you forgetting nuances of the story when in a pressured situation.
Keep your answers conversational and concise, and this acronym might just become your best friend at your next interview. Best of luck!