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The STAR technique

The STAR (situation, task, action and result) technique is an excellent way of communicating your skills and abilities to employers.

You can employ this technique in an application form or in an interview to describe not only how you responded to a given situation, but also how you actively created an opportunity to develop or demonstrate a particular skill or quality.

Some employers will use the technique themselves to analyse the information in your application.

How it works

Firstly, identify the skill or competency which you need to demonstrate to your potential employer (eg teamworking, independence, ability to motivate others) and think of a real occasion when you've used it.

Then use the STAR technique to help you recount both the event and how you used or developed this skill or competency:

S – Situation: Set the scene. Where were you? What were you doing? Give enough information to allow someone to understand the context of your example.

T – Task: Provide details of the task you were faced with or what you were trying to achieve. What was your desired outcome? Show clearly that you set yourself a task in response to a situation.

A – Action: What specifically did you do? How did you handle the situation? This should make up the main body of your response and remember if you are discussing working in the team don’t overuse 'we'. The recruiter wants to know what you did.

R – Result: What was the outcome? Try to make this as specific and positive as you can, using quantitative or qualitative results depending on the company’s preference, with reflection on the reason for that specific outcome. Regardless of the outcome, what did you learn? How would you handle it differently next time to improve upon your performance?

Avoid repeating their own words back to them, parrot fashion, by never using a skills word without qualifying it with a practical example.

To use the STAR technique effectively, remember that you are the 'star' of the story, so focus on your actions, even if they were only a small part of a larger whole.

Find out more

Careers and Employability