Be a S.T.A.R. at interview – use the C.A.R!

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

When attending any interview, there is a significant amount of preparation required if you are going to give yourself the best possible chance of success. Each interview process will have its unique elements and navigating these different styles of interviews can be a challenge in its own right!

Irrespective of which format the interview takes, you need to be prepared to answer the questions in the best possible way. This isn’t just about saying the right thing; it is about structuring your answer in the right way and providing tangible evidence so that the interviewer is absolutely clear about what you are capable of.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in an interview is talking too much. If you have a good interviewer, they should be allowing you to do most of the talking however it is important to strike the balance between verbosity and clarity! There is nothing worse as an interviewer, than meeting a candidate who you know can do the job but who either cannot express their abilities clearly enough or who bores you senseless with overly long-winded responses!

So, what can you do to prepare yourself to answer questions thoroughly and succinctly?

The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance and this is the reason Competency Based interviews are so widely used. It is worth brushing up on Competency Based Interviews in general and ensuring you have a good idea of which competencies the interviewer will be looking to assess for a particular role. Click here for some general advice

Once you have drawn up a list of the competencies needed to do your target job, you should then create your list of examples of how you have demonstrated each competency. This will give you confidence that, whether the question posed is about Leadership or Problem Solving, you will have a mental list at the ready!

The next stage is to get your structure right and this is where the CAR or STAR formats can help you.

A Competency Based Interview asks you to outline how you have performed in a specific situation in the past. Using the CAR or STAR structure will enable the interviewer to get the detail they need from you in the limited time available.

The STAR format tends to lend itself to more complex examples where there is greater detail required and where you need to guard against being too long-winded.

The key to each of these is to break down each example into the relevant section. It encourages you to separate out the Context of the situation from the Action you took. Most importantly, it makes you focus on the end Result. What did you actually achieve? Can you back this up with specific figures or percentage increases?

By working through each of your examples in this way, you will find that you naturally adopt this clarity of style. As ever, you will get better with practice and rest assured that your interviewer will appreciate your efforts!

Doing this well will make you credible and enable the interviewer to visualise you in the role along with providing tangible results to reinforce your examples. Hopefully, it will also mean that, however structured the interview, it will flow well and give the interviewer time at the end for more informal questioning.

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