Using the STAR(R) technique to answer 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:

Tell us about a time when you used your teamwork skills.

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:


Tell us about a time when you used your teamwork skills.


S   One assignment at university meant I had to work in a team. The team was chosen at random so the members had not worked together before. I was elected chairperson by the team.

T    Our task was to produce several different pieces of work on one subject.

A  My role involved coordinating the efforts of the team and arranging and chairing meetings. One team member rarely contributed and was holding the team back by not doing the work we had agreed. I had a word with this person and pointed out the effect that her behaviour was having on the project, and that we would have to work together to achieve our result.

R  Her contribution improved and we obtained 75% for the assignment.

(R) Thinking back on this experience, I learned that I shouldn't leave it to too long to intervene in a situation where things aren't working properly. I resolved the situation but next time I would tackle the problem earlier to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.


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:

Tell us about a time when you used your ..................

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

Good luck!