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The STAR method is a great way to bring relevance to the examples you give, explaining to an employer why you're a great fit. Find out how to use it and when in this article.
Tech Talent Engine
If you’re the type of person that struggles to stay on topic, you’re not alone.
Everyone has experienced the same panic in an interview. As you find yourself rambling through the topics, you’ve lost track of your words. By this point, you’ve lost all confidence in your abilities.
Whether preparing for an interview or writing your cover letter or CV, the STAR method is one way to introduce structure to your answer and give key examples.
It’s the best way to bring relevance and validity to the examples you give, proving your worth to an employer.
The STAR method translates to a situation, task, action and result:
Using this structure allows you to explain the impact your decision-making had on a certain project or situation. This shows an employer your level of expertise and how valuable you are to an organisation.
You might be thinking, when will I need to use this method? Well, the STAR method can be used in any situation, whether work-related or personal, including:
Some of these ques can come in the format of ‘tell me a time when’, ‘what do you do when’, ‘give me an example’ or ‘describe a situation’.
Before answering the question, put yourself in the shoes of the other person. What information are they trying to find out and why?
Once you can understand the purpose of the question they are asking, it will allow you to tailor your answer to succeed.
For example, an employer might ask about your responsibilities at a previous company. In this format, you should tailor your answer to suit the job vacancy they are advertising.
It could be that they are looking for an IT Support Technician that is competent in providing support across a range of devices, including PCs, Macs, Laptops, Printers and AV equipment.
Using the STAR method, you can bring relevance to your answer by identifying the key situations you were involved in and how your expertise in IT support impacted the company.
This helps to explain your level of competence, demonstrating your key areas of expertise to an employer.
Now that we’ve talked about what the STAR method is and the types of situations it can be used for, let’s talk through how to use it.
1. Set the scene
The first step is to explain the situation clearly. Assume that the other person has no idea what you are talking about.
The goal is to paint a picture of the type of situation you were in. For example, in a CV this could include explaining more about your previous role as a Software Developer.
“At Dell, I was recruited as a junior Software Developer to support the Software Developer Manager.”
2. Explain the task
It’s time to highlight the task and explain more about your core involvement. This is your opportunity to give context to the situation.
“My core responsibilities included designing and developing microservices using C#, .NET, Entity Framework Core and RabbitMQ.”
3. What action did you take?
Now that you’ve explained more about what you do, let’s explain the steps you took to achieve success.
“To fulfil this responsibility, I used debugging tools and techniques to identify and resolve issues. A strong part of this role involved communication. This involved regularly asking for feedback and guidance to further improve my skills and knowledge.”
4. Outline the result
Finally, you can explain what the result was after these steps and how it made a difference.
“As a result of being often thrown in the deep end at Dell, I have developed a key understanding of software development methodologies and best practices.”
If you’re writing a CV, this could mean pulling an example of your core responsibilities in a previous role. For example,
This example is short and concise but uses numbers to provide validity to these statements. If possible, it’s a good idea to use figures to further explain your point.
Now that you’ve read more about the STAR method and how to use it, hopefully, you should be feeling more confident in your own abilities.
If you have an interview soon, remember, to give yourself enough time to prepare and practice. It’s not essential to use the STAR method, but it will help to keep you on track, providing key examples of your level of competence.
For more advice, help and assistance, simply register to sign up to Tech Talent Engine today to find out how we can help.
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