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Be a STAR in Your Next Interview

Many people get nervous just at the thought of attending an interview. But if you’re looking to change jobs – whether you’re moving companies or moving up in your current organisation – there is no getting away from interviews. You might be the best person for the job, but if you let your nerves get the better of you, or you don’t prepare for the interview, then you’re not going to get your dream job.

Here’s how to be a STAR in your next interview and get that job!

These days, many interviews are competency based. This means that you'll be asked to give examples of when you’ve carried out tasks that you will have to perform in this new role. You’ll be asked questions like “Give me an example of when you did X”.

To help you answer this sort of question in the best possible way, first you need to do some preparation. Get as much information as you can about the job that you’re applying for. What skills are needed to do the job? What exactly does the job involve and what problems might occur in doing it?

Once you’ve created this list of skills and tasks, you need to start thinking of recent examples when you've successfully used those skills. But don’t leave it to chance – prepare the answers that you’re going to give. The key to success here is to keep your answers short and structured so that you don’t waffle.

A simple structure to help you do this is STAR

  • Situation – what was the situation of your example? In just one sentence you need to give a brief background of the example that you’re discussing. 
  •         Task – what needed to be done? What was the problem or the challenge of the situation?  
  •         Actions – what did you do? What actions did you take?  Sometimes we feel awkward when we've worked with others on a project and we don’t want to take all glory for the results. If this is the case, you can start your Actions sentence with "Working with other people, what I did was ..." This gives you the opportunity to blow your own trumpet! Don’t dilute your achievements just because you worked as part of a team. Your interviewers wants to know how you handle certain situations.
  •              Results – what outcome did you achieve as result of your actions? You need to provide quantifiable results of your actions and proof that you solved the problem.

You need to be really concise with your answers. Why? Because interviewers can feel that they know more about a candidate who answers twelve questions than the one who only answers eight.  Preparing your answers in advance, using the STAR structure, will help you to do this. When you keep your answers short, the interviewer can ask you more questions. They feel that it is less risky to offer the job to someone that they think they know more about. So give ten one minute answers rather than one ten minute answer.