Careers and Employability Service

STARS technique

The STARS technique is an effective way to answer competency based questions whether in an application or an interview. The technique will allow you to break down your answers into clear to define sections which an employer can follow and easily identify your skills and experience being displayed.

  • Remember to plan your answers before you start writing (write notes or bullet points of what you wish to include)
  • As the questions may ask you to illustrate your skills (e.g. Leadership, Team work, Communication), think of some examples of where you will have demonstrated these such as work experience, university experiences, volunteering, through the Leicester Award, internships, interests, hobbies. 

Examples of competency-based questions

  • Provide an example of a situation where you have taken on the role of a leader, describe the skills you used and the results that were achieved.
  • Describe a situation where you have used your communication skills to achieve a positive outcome.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyse complex data and draw relevant conclusions.
  • View examples of typical interview questions and how to respond using the STARS technique

The technique:

Situation   Briefly set the scene (i.e where and when) 
What was the aim. and what was your role?

What did you do and how did you contribute? (This should
form the majority of your answer - around 70%)

What results were achieved? What outcome was reached?
For a really good answer, you should add any reflection and
what you learnt from this situation - with hindsight, would you approach the task differently?

Self-reflection adds to your answer and while not everyone uses it, self-reflecting shows that you have considered your task after the result and have taken the time to consider how if it came up again how you would deal with the task better. You never need to be perfect in your answer and reflection shows a desire to improve. See example below for how to use the STARS Technique:

Example using STARS

Though the Leicester Award I feel that I have primarily developed my communication skills, specifically improved my ability to adapt my communication style for different audiences and build my confidence in speaking to people that I don’t know.

Situation I developed these skills most strongly during the Festival of Careers where I worked as an event assistant

Task I had to carry out tasks such as helping employers set up their stand, answering their queries during the day and acting as a marshal on the door to ensure that only students with wristbands could come in.

Action A key challenge was adapting my communication style between employers and students, as I was representing the university when speaking to employers I needed to be far more professional in my approach. To achieve this I made sure that I followed the advice provided by the Career Development Service in the festival prep sessions and adopted a more formal manner of speaking, made use of positive body language such as smiling, and shook their hand confidently when I met them. This helped build up a good relationship with the employer and also made me feel more confident in talking to them.

Result After the fair 87% of the employers rated the help on the day as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, showing that my approach was successful.

Self-reflection In future I plan to learn how to approach a greater variety of audiences to ensure that I am prepared for any situations that might face me.

Finally remember to develop your answers so that they are positive and appear enthusiastic, and always check your spelling and grammar for applications, many employers may not shortlist an application with spelling or grammar mistakes.

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