How to use the STAR technique at your competency based interview!

Ever wondered how to approach this type of interview? You should have a plan in place on how you will answer. Many candidates use the STAR interview technique and it works particularly well for competency based interviews though could be used for any.


1. First, you should gather at least 4 good examples from your work experiences. Could be how you dealt with an unhappy client, how you delegate large projects, how you overcame objections to get your opinion noticed.

2. Get 4-5 pieces of paper (one per example) and divide them into 4 sections with a pencil or pen. Label each section: 1st section is ‘S’, 2nd section is ‘T’, the 3rd section is ‘A’ and the 4th section is ‘R’. This stands for – Situation, Task, Action and Result.

3. Using one example at a time, fill out each box as per the instructions below. This technique will ensure that you hit each of the major points required in your response.

4. S is for Situation. State the situation. You can say “I handle unhappy client situations often in my current job. The last situation I encountered was when…..and fill in the rest.

5. T is for Task. Here is where you state the task you had to do to remedy the situation. You can say – “My task or my job was to act quickly and get the client on their way with as little wait time as possible” or “My job was to have their account credited on the spot to diffuse the tense situation”.

6. A is for Action. Here is where you state what action you took to achieve your goal. You might say “The action I took was to call up to our billing supervisor and have her credit his account while he was still on the phone” or “The action I took was to issue him a new ticket while he was at the airline counter”

7. R is for Result. Here is where you summarize your result. You can say ” The result was that Mr. Smith got on the flight and I straightened out the credit for him after the call” or “the result was that the client was happy about the instant credit and promised to give us another chance”.

8. The STAR interview technique will always let you answer your interview questions in full – you will never go off on a tangent since you know you must address each letter.

9. Memorising 4-5 different events using the STAR interview technique can be very helpful. Each situation can be slightly altered to fit with the question. For example, the one you memorise on dealing with an unhappy client can be tweaked to become how good your teamwork skills are.

If the interview is on the phone then spread out your STAR papers across your desk so you don’t have to make noise looking for the right one. You want it to appear like your responses are natural and practice your STAR responses until you have them committed to memory. Remember they are as much interested in your speaking and storytelling as the actual situation you are telling them about.

Good luck with your interview!