Shine in interviews using the STAR technique

The STAR technique allows for the structuring of responses to interview questions in the form of narratives. Explanations and tips on how to put it into practice.

“Tell me about the time when…”

Behavioural interviews are now popular. In this type of interview, the employer’s questions lead the candidate to talk about their experiences or self-assess themselves.

The underlying principle: learning about your work history allows the employer to form an image of the employee you will be if the organization hires you.

Some examples of topics covered in a behavioural interview :

  • the greatest professional challenge you’ve ever faced;
  • your difficulties and failures;
  • the accomplishments of which you are proud;
  • a professional situation where you had to work under high pressure;
  • conflicts you have experienced with colleagues or superiors.

These themes open the door to answers in the form of a narrative. Doesn’t the storytelling fibre feel particularly developed? Structuring one’s response around the acronym STAR produces a complete and coherent narrative.

The STAR method explained

The acronym STAR refers to the words “situation”, “task”, “action” and “result”. Here is what each refers to.

Situation. As in “mise en situation”. The context is presented: when, where, who, what, how.

Task. At this stage, the work to be done and its objectives are described. Without forgetting the constraints and difficulties we faced: lack of resources, short deadline, incompatible personalities…

Action. Actions taken to accomplish the task and overcome difficulties are presented. This is the time to subtly highlight your own qualities and skills!

Result. An assessment of the operation is made, with emphasis on the results obtained. Recruiters like to hear concrete facts and figures, observations and facts. The results did not live up to expectations? This is an opportunity to show maturity by pointing out the lessons learned from the experience.

A constructive approach

For guidance counsellor Érick Beaulieu, the great advantage of the STAR approach is its practicality: “In an interview, you have to focus on what you can bring to the company. Giving examples of situations where we have demonstrated our skills, as this method leads us to do, gives a good anchor. »

The guidance counsellor invites job seekers to identify a few key skills that characterize them beforehand and to find examples of situations where these skills have been put to use. Each of these examples becomes the nucleus around which to deploy a narrative response.

Érick Beaulieu also salutes the constructive side of the STAR approach. “In interviews, our greatest strengths are our assumed weaknesses. We gain by being able to work on ourselves. It’s a proof of maturity. “He believes that STAR-style stories are ideal for answering questions about difficulties, flaws and failures, since they end with a balance sheet in which the candidate highlights what he or she has learned.

Self-knowledge and openness

What questions should you be prepared for? How long should each story be? For Érick Beaulieu, an interview is not a fixed recipe. It is therefore impossible to set precise limits.

The interview should, in his view, be designed as a discussion rather than an interrogation: “If you want to know if you’ve said enough, just ask! Did I say what was essential for you? Do you want me to say more? And if you think you’ve said too much, you can say it’s a flaw and you realize it, so you’ve just scored points! »

Structuring your answers by adopting the STAR technique is not the same as giving an oral presentation like in a small school.

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