Use The STAR Technique To Ace Difficult Job Interview Questions

Use The STAR Technique To Ace Difficult Job Interview Questions

Interviewers often ask candidates to prove their potential value to a company with behavioural job interview or competency-based questions. You have to tell a story — your story of achievement. Don’t let the pressure get to you; use the STAR method to stay in control.

Photo by John Davey

The STAR model is a framework for answering questions that start like this: “Describe the most difficult/interesting/rewarding…” or “Give me an example where you…” with a short story. As we’ve noted previously, STAR stands for situation, task, action and result:

1. Situation: Open with a brief description of the Situation and context of the story (who, what, where, when, how).

2. Task: Explain the Task you had to complete highlighting any specific challenges or constraint (eg deadlines, costs, other issues).

3. Action: Describe the specific Actions that you took to complete the task. These should highlight desirable traits without needing to state them (initiative, intelligence, dedication, leadership, understanding, etc.)

4. Result: Close with the result of your efforts. Include figures to quantify the result if possible.

Self-improvement blog Upgrade Reality offers more insight into how you should use STAR during an interview. Tips include keeping your STAR story to no more than three minutes, emphasising measurable (rather than subjective) results, and adding a simple statement at the end to reinforce the message (such as “We worked hard, but it was worth it.”). Check out the full article for more tips.

Master the STAR Model for Interviews [Upgrade Reality]


  • Except the reality is that probably 90% of the interviews I have done over the last two years have specifically stated ‘we are asking behavioural/situation based questions and would like you to answer with the STAR method’.

  • A competency based interview is now probably more common than ever. It gives the interviewer the opportunity to see whether the applicant has the relevant experience AND is able to demonstrate that.

    You should always give good examples using the STAR method and definitely make sure your story ends with a positive outcome.

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