Star Technique

Written by Reading time: 9 mins

What is a STAR interview technique? 

The STAR interview method is a technique you can use to prepare for behavioural and situational interview questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. Hiring managers ask behavioural interview questions to determine whether you are the right fit for a job. The STAR technique helps you answer competency-based questions in a clear, structured way using real-life examples and makes sure you include all the key details. 

How to use STAR? 

Situation: In the first step of the STAR technique, you need to provide a brief overview of the situation or scenario you encountered in your previous roles. This could include a specific case you handled, a challenging situation you faced, or an opportunity you seized upon. 
For example, you could mention a situation where you had to treat a critically ill animal or deal with an emergency situation in your clinic. Be sure to provide enough context so that the interviewer understands the circumstances surrounding your experience. 
Task: The next step is to explain the task or objective that you needed to accomplish in that particular situation. Your tasks may vary depending on your specialization or the type of practice you work in. It could involve diagnosing and treating an animal's illness, performing surgery, providing preventive care, or managing a team. 
Clearly articulate what your role was in the given situation and what specific task or goal you were responsible for achieving. This will demonstrate your ability to handle responsibilities and make decisions. 
Action: In this step, describe the actions you took to address the situation and accomplish the task at hand. Focus on highlighting your skills, knowledge, and expertise. Discuss any specific techniques or procedures you employed, any challenges you encountered along the way, and how you overcame them. 
For instance, if you were treating a critically ill animal, explain the diagnostic tests you performed, the treatment plan you developed, and any innovative approaches you used to improve the animal's condition. Emphasize your problem-solving abilities and showcase your ability to think on your feet. 
Result: The final step of the STAR technique is to discuss the results or outcomes of your actions. Explain the impact of your efforts and how they positively influenced the situation or achieved the desired outcome. This could include improvements in the animal's health, successful surgeries, positive feedback from clients, or any other measurable results. 
Quantify your achievements whenever possible. For example, you could mention that you successfully treated a certain number of animals, reduced mortality rates, increased client satisfaction scores, or improved clinic efficiency. 
By using the STAR interview technique, you can effectively demonstrate your skills, experience, and problem-solving abilities to potential employers. It allows you to provide concrete examples of your past performance and showcase your ability to handle various situations in a veterinary setting. 


STAR interview question examples 

Competency based questions typically start with phrases such as, “Tell me about a time when…” and “Give me an example of…”. In the heat of the interview, these questions can be tough to answer and leave you racking your brain for an example that demonstrates the necessary skill or behaviour. Here are some examples: 

  • Share an example of a time when you faced a difficult problem at work. How did you solve this problem? 

  • Have you ever had to make an unpopular decision? How did you handle it? 

  • Describe a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work. How did you react? 

  • Tell me about a mistake you’ve made. How did you handle it? 

  • Share an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision. What did you do? 

  • Explain a situation where you used data or logic to make a recommendation. 

  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss. How did you resolve it? 

  • Describe a time when you had to deliver bad news. How did you do it? 

  • Tell me about a time you worked with other departments to complete a project. 

  • Share an example of a time when you failed. What did you learn from the experience? 

  • Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a specific goal. 

  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to do something. 

  • Describe a time when you had a conflict with a colleague. How did you handle it? 

  • Have you ever had to motivate others? How did you do it? 

  • Tell me about the last time your workday ended before you were able to get everything done. 


STAR interview response example – vet specific  

Tell me about a time when you had to handle a difficult client in a veterinary setting. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome? 
Situation: In my previous role as a veterinary technician at XYZ Animal Hospital, I encountered a challenging client who was upset and frustrated with the treatment plan for their pet's chronic condition. 
Task: My task was to address the client's concerns, provide them with accurate information, and ensure that they understood the importance of following the recommended treatment plan. 
Action: I approached the situation by first empathizing with the client's emotions and actively listening to their concerns. I then took the time to explain the treatment plan in detail, using layman's terms to ensure their understanding. I also provided them with educational materials and resources to further support their comprehension. Additionally, I offered alternative options within the treatment plan that could accommodate their financial constraints without compromising their pet's well-being. Throughout the conversation, I maintained a calm and professional demeanour, focusing on building trust and rapport with the client. 
Result: By addressing the client's concerns and providing them with clear explanations and options, I was able to alleviate their frustration and gain their trust. The client expressed gratitude for my patience and understanding, ultimately agreeing to follow the recommended treatment plan for their pet. This positive outcome not only ensured proper care for the animal but also strengthened the client-veterinary relationship. 


STAR interview response example – sales 

Tell me about a time when you had to persuade a difficult customer to make a purchase. How did you handle the situation?" 
Situation: In my previous role as a sales representative at XYZ Company,  
I encountered a challenging customer who was hesitant to make a purchase due to budget constraints. 
Task: My task was to understand the customer's concerns, address them effectively, and ultimately persuade them to make the purchase. 
Action: I began by actively listening to the customer's concerns and empathizing with their budget limitations. I then proceeded to highlight the unique value proposition of our product, emphasizing its long-term benefits and return on investment. Additionally, I offered flexible payment options and discounts to accommodate their financial constraints. To further build trust and credibility, I shared success stories of other customers who had experienced positive outcomes after using our product. 
Result: Through my efforts, I was able to convince the customer that our product was worth the investment despite their initial reservations. They ultimately made the purchase and expressed satisfaction with their decision. 
This example demonstrates how the candidate effectively handled a difficult customer situation by employing active listening skills, empathy, persuasive communication techniques, and problem-solving abilities. 


How can I practice STAR? 

To practice using the STAR interview technique, follow these steps: 
1. Understand the STAR framework: Familiarize yourself with the four components of the STAR framework - Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Each component plays a crucial role in structuring your response. 
2. Identify relevant scenarios: Think about various situations from your past experiences that highlight your skills and achievements. These scenarios should be relevant to the job you are applying for and demonstrate your ability to handle challenges effectively. 
3. Break down each scenario: For each scenario, break it down into the four components of the STAR framework: 
- Situation: Describe the context or situation you were in. Provide enough details to help the interviewer understand the background. 
- Task: Explain the specific task or goal you were assigned within that situation. Clearly define what was expected of you. 
- Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation or complete the task. Focus on your individual contributions and highlight any skills or qualities you utilized. 
- Result: Share the outcome of your actions. Emphasize any positive results or achievements that occurred as a result of your efforts. 
4. Practice storytelling: Once you have identified relevant scenarios and broken them down into the STAR components, practice telling these stories in a concise and engaging manner. Aim to provide enough detail to paint a clear picture but avoid going off on tangents or providing unnecessary information. 
5. Use keywords and metrics: Incorporate relevant keywords and metrics into your responses whenever possible. This will help demonstrate your familiarity with industry-specific terminology and showcase your ability to quantify your achievements. 
6. Seek feedback: Practice your STAR responses with a friend, family member, or mentor. Ask for their feedback on your storytelling, clarity, and overall effectiveness. Their input can help you refine your answers and improve your delivery. 
7. Research common interview questions: Familiarize yourself with common behavioural interview questions that often require the STAR technique. This will allow you to prepare specific scenarios in advance and feel more confident during the actual interview. 
8. Stay adaptable: While practising the STAR technique is valuable, it's important to remain adaptable during the interview. Not all questions may explicitly require the STAR format, so be prepared to adjust your approach accordingly. 
By following these steps and practising regularly, you can become more comfortable and proficient in using the STAR interview technique. Remember to tailor your responses to each specific question and highlight the skills and experiences most relevant to the job you are applying for. 

Good luck with your interviews! 

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