Using the ‘STAR’ technique to answer competency-based
The STAR (‘Situation, Task, Action, Result’) technique is a recognised format used in interviews to answer competency-based questions like “tell me about a time you solved a problem to a tight timescale”. Using this method to answer interview questions allows the applicant to provide strong examples of proof that you possess the experience and skills for the apprenticeship.
Explain a recent challenge or situation that relates to the question.
Describe the tasks, objectives and targets relevant to the situation.
Describe the action taken to complete the tasks and objectives, why those actions were taken.
Explain the outcome of the situation, for example what objectives and targets were met. Don’t forget to describe key learnings from the situation and how they have been used since.
Answering strength-based questions
Employers are looking for various qualities and characteristics in a potential apprentice. A lot of these qualities are outlined in the job advert and on the company’s website so it’s important to be
familiar with them.
It can sometimes be difficult to think of ways to describe your strengths on the spot, so it’s important to plan out and practice describing strengths relevant to the role.
Examples of how to introduce strengths during an interview include:
- I am skilled at….
- I am competent in…
- I am talented at…
- I am excellent at….
- I am very good at…
- I am qualified to…
- I am able to…
- I am excellent at…
- I am extremely good at…
Words and phrases employers are looking for
Take a look at the job description and employer’s website to gain a better understanding of the skills and characteristics the employer will be looking for during an interview.
Preparing for an interview
- Read the job description and person specification carefully and be clear on the skills and qualities the employer is looking for
- Check the company website to find out more about its products or services and their plans for the future
- Go over the application form, CV or covering letter and think about things the employer may ask
- Prepare examples that demonstrate the right skills, personal qualities and experiences if presenting, practice timings and keep a back-up copy.
- Practice answering questions with a colleague, friend, family etc.
- Write down questions to ask at the end of the interview
- Prepare something suitable and comfortable to wear
- Check the arrival time and the name of the person to report to
- Plan the route in advance and allow plenty of time to allow for traffic
Just before the interview
- Turn off any electrical devices (e.g. mobile
- Use breathing techniques to calm any nerves, but try to remember a few nerves are normal
- Smile and greet the interviewer confidently
- Ask for water if needed
During the interview
- Be polite and use the right language and tone for a formal situation
- Listen carefully to questions and think before answering questions
- Ask the interviewer to repeat or explain the question if there is any confusion
- Use the STAR method to answer questions about your skills
- Be positive about experiences – if describing a difficult situation, demonstrate what you learned
- Tell the truth – do not exaggerate or come across as over-confident
- Ask questions when invited to do so
- Thank the employer for their time
After the interview
After the interview, try to write down some of the interview questions to help prepare for future interviews.
Try to write an account of the experience and reflect on what went well and what could be improved and use this to prepare for future interviews.
- Accept the offer in a timely manner and agree on a start date and next steps
- If declining the offer, do so in a timely and polite manner
- Be positive and learn from the experience ask for feedback
- Think about things that went well and did not go well to improve next time
- Practice with friends, family, colleagues or a career adviser