Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Competency-based Interviews: STAR Q&A's

Get ‘Competency-based interviews: STAR Q&A’s’ and other blog posts straight to your inbox by subscribing to this blog via email. Please see the subscription box on the right hand side and submit your email. Once submitted, you will need to use the link the automatic ‘activation email’ to confirm your subscription.

Although it is rare, sometimes you will have to attend an interview as part of the application process for an internship. Previously, I have written two other blog posts on interviews, which are ‘preparing for intern interviews’ and ‘surviving intern interviews’. Both these blog posts provide basic advice that offers a starting point for completing a successful interview.

As you already know, the publishing industry is a tough one to get into, especially if you have zero contacts. This is why I have created blog posts that not only apply to students seeking internships, but also graduates that may need advice when looking for full time work. In particular, the interview will be the main part of your job application, and will make or break whether you are the person to secure the internship/job. This is why over the next month or two, I shall be creating a lot more blog posts, which tackle the fundamental part of the recruitment process.

As some of you may have found out from my Twitter page, I’ve currently been brainstorming new ideas for upcoming blog posts. These future blog posts inevitably mean that I’m going beyond my current knowledge of recruitment advice, and turning my attention to the stuff that I don’t know much about. In order to achieve this, I’ve been taking my own time to research various career based topics, which include expanding my interview based blog posts and specifically, competency-based interviews Q&A’s.

STAR is a method that most if not all employers are familiar with, and it is a popular way to structure your interview answers. STAR allows you to answer behaviour-based interview questions in a structured and coherent manner.

STAR interview questions, typically are questions that seek out a candidates level of competency and behaviour. For example, a sample question would be ‘Describe a time in which you have had to work as a team?’ These types of questions give the interviewer a feel for how you have acted in the past, which provides a good indication to how you will act in the future. To make sure that you don’t slip up on STAR questions, give your interviewer a STAR answer.

The STAR acronym consists of:

Situation – Describe the situation that you were confronted with, including the context, and any other relevant information that is useful to your story.

Task – Describe the task that you needed to accomplish. Make this concise and informative. If the question is about teamwork, then explain the task that you had to undertake within that team.

Action – This is the most significant aspect of the STAR structure. Now that you have set up the context of the situation, make sure that you are now describing your performance, personal attributes and highlight the skills that you have gained. This should include the standard details of what you did, how you did it and why you did it.

Result – Describe how the situation ended, what you have accomplished, and relate it back to any skills that you have learnt.

This universally recognised way to communicate will be valued by your interviewer, even if they haven’t directly been trained in STAR technique. As a result, your answers and the information given to your interviewer will be competently delivered in a concise manner. Please be aware that there are plenty of websites offering an array of sample STAR questions and answers. Do your research and impress your interviewer.


  1. Very nice blog. This blog have very nice information. State some additional qualities you possess, what makes you different and suitable for the job.

    basic interview questions

  2. Competence based jobs are very difficult to get through. Thanks for this helpful post.

    Interview Questions