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How to be a STAR in your next interview... The...

5 months ago

How to be a STAR in your next interview... The STAR technique

While there are many different styles of interviews, the most common is the Competency-Based interview.  It allows employers to assess whether your skills, motivations and personality match up with what they are looking for when filling the position.

Candidates must give situational examples of times in the past when they have performed particular tasks or achieved particular outcomes using certain skills. This style of interview gives potential employers an idea of how you will perform in these situations in future scenarios within their business. Even though you may dread the type of questions you will be asked and the pressures associated with interviews, you will be happy to know that you can prepare for a competency-based interview. Here at Executive Connections, we want to help eliminate the stress and worry that surround interviews. Keep reading below for tips on how to approach Competency-Based Questions and be a STAR during your next interview.

Once you identify the competencies you may be asked about in an interview, you can prepare an answer and depending on which position you are interviewing for you can always tweak the answer.

One of the most common questions we get asked is: How will I know it’s a competency-based interview question?
If you are engaging with a recruitment consultant they will be aware of the interview format and will be able to help you prepare. If you are not, however, you will be able to recognise it by how the questions are phrased. See some examples below of how an interviewer may ask a competency-based question:

  • How would you…

  • What would you do if…

  • Can you explain how you would…

  • Tell me about a time you…..

The second thing to note is how to answer these questions.

What is the interviewer looking for?
When answering, you will need to explain how you would handle the situation normally, giving a step-by-step answer. The STAR method is very common when developing an answer for competency questions. So when answering in detail the Situation, Task, Action and Result.

When we prepare candidates for interviews, I simplify this slightly and have come to use my own personal SME (Start, Middle and End) method.

  1. Give an overview of the situation.

  2. Describe what YOU did in the situation.

  3. Describe how YOU did it and the positive outcome as a result of your actions.

So you are confident in how to form the answer – here are some more tips on what to include.

  • We always recommend to give an example based on a past work experience situation. Mention the company you worked for, and your involvement in detail and also include timelines if you have them to show maximum efficiency.

  • Stick to the point. Describe the situation in detail but try and include only relevant information as to how you handled the situation step by step. Avoid long-winded answers and always talk in the first person. While you may have worked as part of a team in your previous role, always speak in the first person and use positive language e.g. ‘I succeeded in….’, ‘I was responsible for…’.

  • You should always give an example, whether the interviewer asked for one or not. Don’t leave them doubting your ability, so if you have a perfect example that will impress them, be sure to include it in your answer.

Below is a short list of common competency-based questions. Obviously, questions will differ based on the industry you work in, but many can be used across a variety of industries. See some examples below:

  • Give an example of a difficult or sensitive situation with a fellow colleague?

  • Describe something you have done to improve the performance of your team?

  • Describe a situation where you were successful in getting people to work together effectively?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead a group to achieve an objective?

  • Describe a time when you were in a high-pressure situation?

  • Describe a time when you encountered a difficult customer, the situation and what you did?

Competency-based interview questions are not to be feared. Like everything, if you prepare well you can get great results. If you have any questions based on the above article or have a competency-based interview in the near future and would like some guidance please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me.

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