Using the STAR method for answering job interview questions

This article gives details about the STAR(R) technique used for answering job interview questions and gives an example answer

It is very likely that you will need to perform in a job interview at some point and you should prepare thoroughly when this happens. When you go to a job interview there will be a number of types of questions. These include warm up questions, questions about your motivations for applying for the job, questions about what you know about the company you are applying to, and very importantly competency or skills questions.

Competency or skills questions are very important and these questions carry a lot of weight in the interview. These questions focus on competencies, or skills, that you are expected to have for this job and these include:

  • teamwork skills
  • communication skills
  • working under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • negotiation skills
  • organisational skills
  • using your initiative
  • valuing diversity and difference
  • problem solving skills
  • the ability to learn and adapt
  • numeracy skills

Questions about these competencies typically ask the candidate to give an example of a time they used it.

For example:

When you answer the question you need to give a full, structured answer. The best way to do this is to use the STAR(R) technique:

S – stands for SITUATION: first give the situation where you used this skill.

T – stands for TASK: then give the task that you faced.

A – stands for ACTION: give the actions that you took in the situation.

R – stands for RESULT: give the result of your action.

(R) – is another R which has been added recently to this list and it is an optional final step to include. It stands for REFLECTION: say what you learnt from the experience

Here is an example question and answer:



Many interviewers will know this technique and might well be looking out for you to use it and will reward you for doing so. In your preparation for your job interview you should prepare a number of scenarios for all the skills above and practise answering questions which begin like this:

and make sure you use the STAR(R) technique in your answer.

Good luck!