Over The Hill and Under The Radar

A blog for women of all ages who feel they are being ignored

How to use the STAR skill in a job interview


How to use the STAR skill in a job interview

If like me you are interviewing for roles you will have often come up against competency-based interviews eg  ‘tell me about a situation’

Employers use this style for questioning to all interviewees to make sure everyone is being treated equally. Generally this is used in larger structured organisations (but I am now finding is is becoming the norm for all companies) and you could find these types of interviews challenging. However, if you use the STAR system you can ace the interview. It DOES take practice and it is worth rehearsing your responses prior to any interview so that it does not sound stilted.

How to use the STAR skill in a job interview


Your responses of course will vary  depending on the role you are applying for.  A PA could  be asked to explain a situation where there was a problem with travel and how did you resolve this. A customer service person may be asked how they solved a complaint without it being escalated to senior management.

So how to be a STAR

Often the interview question will begin with ‘Tell me about a time when you was faced with….’ While you may have an answer in the heat of the interview when nerves kick in you may not give a clear concise answer and jump from point to point and eventually lose your train of thought.

To avoid this think of STAR to your response.  I have listed an example below of a situation I was recently in which I used in my interview.

Set the scene for your explanation.
Example: I had to arrange 15 flights for the MDs for a trip to Spain which was taking place between 1-5 October  2017 in Rome. Unfortunately 2 of the MD’s were booked on the Easy Jet flight which we had been advised were potentially going to be cancelled.

Explain what you had to do.
Example: The 15 MD’s had to be in Rome no later than 1pm on 1 October as they had a meeting to attend at 5pm that afternoon so it was essential their flights were planned accordingly. Due to Easy Jet potentially cancelling these flights I looked at alternative flights for the guys.

Explain what you actually did
Example: I spoke to our  travel agent for alternative flights. I checked to see if there were other flights leaving from their preferred airport with alternative airlines. This was not the case and so I had to look at similar flights from other airports which would arrive in Rome around 1pm. I could not have flights that arrived later in the day due to impending meeting they had in Rome at 5pm. I spoke to the MDs to see if they were OK about taking a flight from another airport and I also arranged a taxi to take them from their UK home to the alternative airport.

Explain how the situation played out.
Example: One of the MDs did not want to travel from another airport and decided to take a much earlier flight so landed in Rome at 8am in the morning. I made sure that the hotel know of his early arrival so his room would be ready and I made sure that on arrival at Rome airport that there was a taxi to take him to the hotel. In the end it meant that all the MDs arrived in Rome ready for their 5pm meeting on 1 October fully refreshed and ready for the productive meeting.

You can see from my response to the question that I mention a specific action rather than a general action. I mentioned there were 15 MDs travelling but 2 had problems and that I personally took on the task of resolving the issue. This showed the interviewer that I am a capable PA who is used to making her own decisions and now having to pass over to a senior team member.  The interviewer would then start to think that I could fit into their organisation.

How to use the STAR skill in a job interview

It is also vital that you end the STAR explanation on a positive note so that you leave a lasting impression. Do also tell the interviewer what you learnt from the situation and what you would have done differently the next time you were in a similar situation.

By using the STAR action during interviews you can showcase your skills to the best of your advantage in a calm and professional manner.

I would suggest that you think about a situation now before you attend any further interviews so you are fully prepared and then you can feel confident going into an interview and be the STAR.


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