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The STAR technique: The importance of interview preparation

We’ve all been there, at one end of the table gazing at your potential employer, or even more intimidating a panel of potentials… The Nerves! It’s becoming clear that selection process is becoming more and more rigorous as companies are more cautious about making the right choice. Whenever I talk to my Top Clients made up of High Achieving Multinationals – one thing I hear a lot is that candidates should of course be interested in joining the company but more importantly in the job at hand – and this is where using the STAR technique for interview preparation can have a huge impact.

How to Ace the Interview:

  • Basics:
    • Dress Code – wear formal clothes where possible when possible. In my view you can never be too formal but you definitely can be too casual!
    • Be on Time – to try and arrive at least 10 minutes early make sure to have a route planned and a contact number for the company should the inevitable happen.
  • Prepare:
    • Know the Company – this goes without saying but try and understand how they make money, their clients, their competitors and their operations in Ireland
    • Research news items – Google is your friend!
    • Know the job spec – Be able to relate your previous work experience and be sure to know what product you’ll be working on where relevant!
    • Have specific examples – have specific cases in your career to go back to and to provide back up to situational type questions
  • Perform
    • Listen to the question – make sure to answer the question being asked and go into detail giving examples where needed but try and avoid rambling and make sure to hear the interviewer a chance to talk
    • When finished – ask if they would like you to elaborate on anything in your CV as this ensures in the interviewer that you are eager for the role
    • Be sure to use I rather than we – you are the person being interviewed be sure to give your best self and your examples
    • Ask the interviewer questions – this is a follow up from above but make sure to ask the right types of questions (watch this space for another blog 😉 )
  • What the Interview will be trying to evaluate
    • That you have the necessary skills and experience to do the job
    • That you are a right culture fit for the organisation
    • That this is the right job for you

Be a STAR – the key to preparation!

The most popular technique to support preparation for competency/ behavioural based interviews is the STAR technique.


(S) – Situation. This is the introduction or opening information. Interviewees will describe the event, situation or challenge. It is important to bring the event to life and to give as much context as possible as to which role and position you are referring to so the interviewer can relate this back to your CV.

(T) – Task. What did you have to achieve? The interviewer will be looking to see what you were trying to achieve from the situation.

(A) – Action. This is what you did or the details of the story. It is where you provide details about actions you took, why you took these specific actions and how you behaved during the situation. It is important to avoid sweeping statements and to provide plenty of detail. The most common mistake at this stage is to use the word “We” instead of the word “I” when describing actions. Doing this will dilute your contribution. Also try to use strong “action verbs” in your answer.

(R) – Results. The final part of the technique where you outline the results or outcomes of the situation, results achieved for the department/ business/ organization, recognition for your performance. Explain where you added value (e.g. did you save money for the business/ time for the department?). Try to quantify.

In preparing your answers using a distinct context and/or

There you have it – some short and sweet tips and tricks to becoming the STAR Candidate.


Posted in: Job Seeking Resources

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