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Interviews & Negotiations

Competency Based Interviews

Increasing numbers of employers use Competency Based interviews which are appropriate to the job you are applying for. Below is a simple approach you may choose to adopt:

THE ‘STAR’ APPROACH
The acronym STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

This is a universally recognised communication technique designed to enable you to provide a meaningful and complete answer to questions asking for examples to support your answers. At the same time, it has the advantage of being simple enough to be applied easily.

Many interviewers will have been trained in using the STAR structure. Even if they have not, they will recognise its value when they see it. The information will be given to them in a structured manner and, as a result, they will become more receptive to the messages you are trying to communicate.

STEP 1: SITUATION or TASK
Describe the situation that you were confronted with or the task that needed to be accomplished. With the STAR approach you need to set the context. Make it concise and informative, and ensure the essence of the story relates to the position you are
interviewing for.

STEP 2: ACTION
This is the most important section of the STAR approach as it is where you will need to demonstrate and highlight the skills and personal attributes that the question is testing. Now that you have set the context of your story, you need to explain what you did. In doing so, you will need to remember the following:

  • Be personal; i.e. Talk about yourself, not the rest of the team.
  • Go into some detail. Do not assume that they will guess what you mean.
  • Steer clear of technical information, unless it is crucial to your story.  
  • Explain what you did, how you did it, and why you did it.

STEP 3: RESULT
Explain what happened eventually and how it all ended. Also, use the opportunity to describe what you accomplished and what you learnt in that situation. This helps you to make the answer personal and enables you to highlight further skills.

This is probably the most crucial part of your answer. Interviewers want to know that you are using a variety of generic skills in order to achieve your objectives. Therefore you must be able to demonstrate in your answer that you are taking specific actions because you are trying to achieve a specific objective and not simply by chance.