How to Be a Star Candidate

Trump Your Competition With This Simple Hack

We’ve all heard of STAR employees, but how can we be STAR candidates when searching for a new position? This article will discuss the benefits of using the STAR technique in both resume writing and interviews, unlocking the secret to bagging your dream career move and beating the competition to the punch.

 

What is the STAR method?

STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It’s a clever technique that boosts answers about your experience. When writing your CV or answering interview questions, STAR reveals critical insights about your skills and expertise, giving your answers potency to WOW the interviewer.

Dissecting the STAR response

To better understand how to fit your experience into each part of STAR, you can ask a question:

  • Situation: What was a valuable situation in your previous role? Include your job title, the date it happened and the obstacle that will serve as the basis for the rest of your answer. 
  • Task: What did the circumstances required of you? Explain any specific skills and unique qualities you needed.
  • Action: How did you respond to the task at hand? Give a detailed description of the steps you took to solve the problem.
  • Results: What was the outcome? How did your work positively affect the business?

Competency questions quashed

One of the most common forms of questions employers tend to ask is the competency-based question. These tend to start with “Tell me about a time you . . . ” or “Describe a situation where . . . “. Examples include:

  • What will your skills bring to this company?
  • Tell me about a moment you’re most proud of at work. 
  • Can you describe a time when you were a leader?

Pre-empting these questions and responding with STAR-based examples is a killer tactic to ensure interview success. But how do you know which questions the interviewer will ask?

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Preparation with STAR

The short answer is, you don’t. However, by paying close attention to the job description and the requirements, you can prepare in a predictive way. For example, if one of the requirements says strong presentation skills. You can edit this to ‘tell me when you had to display your results in an informative presentation.’

 

Following this example, use the 4-part method of STAR to answer this question. So, imagine the interviewer asks: “Can you describe a time when you gave an informative presentation to the group?” your answer may look like this

STAR example

Situation: “When I worked as a Data Manager for a niche contract research organisation in 2020, I was part of a team that handled the setup and database lock for numerous clinical trials.”

Task: “After working in this position for over a year, I noticed many junior Data Managers were not up to speed with the latest processes. After speaking with a few of the senior team members, they agreed.”

Action: “I developed a comprehensive training presentation where I strategically covered areas I felt needed the most attention. Once ready, I scheduled a convenient date and performed the presentation to the junior team members. Leaving ample time for Q&A at the end.”

Results: “We saw a significant increase in overall productivity and positive feedback from the corresponding Programmers and Statisticians. Several of the junior team members privately thanked me for the help.”

How to make a STAR CV

STAR cv

Like before, your first stop will be the desired job description. Diagnose the three stand-out behaviours/skills that you deem integral to the role. Think of how you have demonstrated this in the STAR format, then condense your verbal response to a few bullet points. Finally, include these under your experience on your CV. 

By utilising STAR in this way, you’re indicating why you’re suitable for the role and making it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to distinguish it.

STAR CV example

Following our previous example of a Data Manager demonstrating their presentation skills, here’s an example of how STAR might look on their CV.

 

WORK EXPERIENCE

Data Manager – PAREXEL

Massachusetts, May 2018 – Present

 

  • Used my role as a senior data manager areas of improvement within the team (Situation and Task are combined here)
  • Developed a comprehensive training program and presented it to the group (Action)
  • Increased productivity and processes leading to better overall timescales across multiple projects (Results)

Why use STAR?

Using the STAR method in a resume makes it easier to share the scope of your skills and qualifications. Here are the main benefits of choosing this method:

  • Demonstrate value: Selling yourself well might be the difference in securing an interview. Using STAR allows you to articulate your value in a detailed and informative way. 
  • Avoid being vague or rambling: Using the STAR method helps you strike a balance. It gives depth to your answers without unnecessary fluff. 
  • 2-4-1: Building a CV with the STAR approach prepares you for an interview. The experience you include doubles up as answers to questions about your qualifications. 
  • Tells a story: Using the STAR structure helps you tell a narrative about your past experiences and makes for more compelling reading.

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