Structuring your interview answers using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) interview technique will give you confidence and clarity when answering your interview questions. Following its form will result in your answers being high quality, comprehensive and detailed. This technique will also help you avoid deviating from the question and keep your answers structured and to the point. We would strongly advise you to use the STAR technique.
For the particular competency describe the background of a particular situation when you used the key competency. For example if the competency is budgetary control:
“In my last job I was appointed to lead a project involving a £600,000k engineering factory shutdown lasting 2 weeks. I had overall responsibility for the budget for this project. I did face some challenges on this project which required careful management to keep to budget.”
Describe what your particular task was in relation to this, i.e. “My responsibility was to ensure that the project came in on time and to budget, which required close liaison with the discipline heads, maintenance managers, and cost and planning team. Any overspend, delay or conflict had to be resolved immediately to keep the project to budget. One week into the project we were faced with unexpected delays due to the unavailability of essential maintenance equipment which threatened the completion of the project on time and would ultimately have prevented the plant from becoming operational again on time. This would have obviously created a loss in production and revenue.”
“I worked long hours with the buying and contracts manager, sourcing alternative suppliers and negotiating price, to keep to the original estimates. I worked closely with the planning team to reschedule some of the other work to ensure no time was lost. It was key that I kept in close contact with the whole team throughout, as any delay would affect the budget. I examined all aspects of the project to ensure that there were no wasted costs and that despite the tight budget safety standards were never compromised.”
“I am pleased to say that through perseverance and my determination to deliver on time, and to budget, the long hours paid off and a new supplier was found who have since proved to be a more effective supplier. The project was completed to time and came in a little under budget, and the whole project was carried out without accident or injury.”
The interviewer will probably score your response, and you will gain marks by giving a specific instance, outlining what the situation was, what you did, what your motivation was to do this, and the outcome of your actions. You might also add your observations about what you learnt from the experience. If you give a generalised answer it will be very difficult for the interviewers to award you any points on this part of the interview. Don’t use any scenarios which are too personal and risk causing an awkward moment in the interview.
The STAR technique will enable you to stick to the question, demonstrate your suitability and present clear evidence to show you are capable of fulfilling the role.
Practicing Interview Skills
An excellent way to prepare for an interview is to do a mock interview. Prepare sample answers and get a friend or someone in your family to ask you a few questions before the interview. If you’ve practiced recently with a few questions, it will feel more familiar and you won’t be so nervous on the day. Make a habit of talking for 30 seconds to a minute for each question. Ask them to observe your body language. They will hopefully also be able to pick up on any nervous habits or obvious problems with your answers. Get more interview advice here.