How to use the STAR technique at interview –
advice from
The JobCrowd

The STAR technique is a method of answering competency based questions at interview. A competency based question will normally start with “tell us about a time when you…” and will be related to competencies/ skills listed on the job specification.

So what is the STAR technique? 

As the first part of your answer to a competency based question create a brief context- was this a skill you demonstrated at university, during your internship, during a university play or as part of a sports team?

Then become more specific. What was the task you faced specifically and how did this relate to the people you were working alongside.

This is the most detailed part of your answer. Talk about what you specifically decided to do and why. Ensure you speak as “i” rather than “we” as this demonstrates that you personally have the skills the employer wants you to demonstrate. Feel free to talk about any challenges you faced and how you overcame these.

Ensure the example you use has a positive result. If you can quantify the result in some way, even better. For example increased sales by 15%.

Here’s an example answer using the STAR Technique

“Tell us about a time when you had to juggle lots of tasks simultaneously”

S– Whilst at university I had to submit a weekly essay and also juggle being captain of the football team
T– I knew that I had to be very organised in order to ensure my football team were successful and my studies did not slip.
A– I decided to create a diary attached to my email where I segmented my time. I even planned for time when I would be travelling to the football pitches for training and during these periods planned reading that would be beneficial to my essays for university.
R– My football team climbed 5 places in the universities league and I was able to achieve a 2:1 grade thanks to managing my time efficiently.

Try using the STAR technique next time you go into an interview!

Jo Cooper


Guest blog: Be prepared for job interviews

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert

So you’ve got past the first hurdle of making your CV stand out amongst hundreds of applicants, and managed to bag yourself an interview. Congratulations! But in order to secure your dream job, you must first make it through the next stage: the dreaded graduate job interview. These can be a lot trickier than an interview for some part-time bar work at your local pub, so it’s best to be prepared. At Spotlight Recruitment, we help graduates prepare for job interviews every day, so to help you in your search, we have put together the top 5 questions you are bound to be asked, and the best way of answering them.images


1.    “Tell me about yourself…”

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a question, but it’s something that will come up a lot during interviews and can definitely throw some people! But don’t panic; you can keep your answer fairly brief and just give the interviewer a brief run-through of your CV. Talk about your degree, the different modules, then any bits of relevant work experience, volunteering, or extra-curricular activities you have done.

2.    “Why do you want the job?”

This questions is almost guaranteed to be asked during a job interview, so make sure to have an answer prepared before you go. And be specific. Don’t just say why you want to work in the industry, tell the interviewer what it is about the role and the company that you are interested in. Read the job description carefully before you go and read up on the company.

3.    “What is your main strength?”

This is your chance to show what you can bring to the role. Think about what you are good at, then pick something which is related to the job you are interviewing for. If you are going for an accounting role for example, it’s best to mention your ability with numbers rather than the fact you’re a talented pianist. It’s also better to be specific so you stand out. If you’re interviewing for a marketing position, instead of saying “I’m creative”, say something like “I’m always the one coming up with new ideas when doing a group project.”

4.    “What is your biggest weakness?”

This is one of the hardest interview questions to answer and can often throw graduates! Avoid the “I’m a workaholic” cliché; admit a genuine weakness. The best way to go about it is to pick something that’s not directly related to the role, then go on to show your strengths and explain how you work around it. For example, you could say you’re not good at public speaking, but get around it by being organised and preparing what you are going to say when you have to give a presentation (although don’t use this one if it’s a sales role!).

5.    “Describe a time where…”

Competency questions are often used in graduate job interviews. It’s a good idea to have some good examples lined up before you attend the interview that can be adjusted to fit different situations. Think back to university group projects, part-time jobs, volunteer work, travel, or any extra-curricular activities you have done. Then answer the question using the STAR technique: describe the situation, the task you had, the actions you took, and the result. Make sure to be specific on the actions you took to resolve the situation.

Guest blog by Alice Riley from Spotlight Recruitment

Is this one interview question people don’t prepare for?

We all know interviews are a bit of a game – they have rules (of a sort) and there are many well-rehearsed formulae for answering questions (and if the above comes as news to you, then either take a look at the Careers pages for some ideas, or book a Quick Query in the Careers Service).

The Good Day At Work site has just published a really interesting article about the latest ‘killer question’ designed to get to the real you rather than the well-rehearsed actor.

It is this:

‘Tell me something I wouldn’t know from looking at your CV’

This might sound odd, given how much time everybody spends perfecting their CV, but what it is designed to do is find out a bit more about the real you – your enthusiasms, your ideas, what makes you tick – to see how close a fit you are to the organisation you are applying for.

Read the full article here:

If you’d like to practice your interview skills and don’t have a real interview booked, why not come to one of the alumni interview sessions? These are held monthly and are designed to give you the experience of both being interviewed and being on the interviewing panel, so you can see what works in a safe environment. The next one is on 5th March from 2:00 – 4:30 and will be hosted by Olamide Bada who is now a corporate lawyer – here’s a link to book a place.

Philippa Hewett