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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsSTAR is an extremely useful tool to help you answer those tricky questions that come up on application forms and at interview. It stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. A question may start as "Give an example of when..." or "Tell me about a situation where..." Start by providing some details about the situation, so that the reader or interviewer can understand the context of your example. Next, identify the task; what needed to be done. Then describe the action that you took; what did you do and how did you do it? And finally, describe the result. You could even go on to describe what you learned or gained from it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsSo for example, the interviewer or application form might say "Give an example of when you've worked as part of a team to solve a problem." First, describe the situation. "I'm the captain of the Sheffield Holts, a local women's football team. And we recently played in the final of the Carly Cup against Leeds Lock. At half-time we were losing by two goals to one." Then identify the task. "This was the first time we'd ever reached the final and we needed to win to help us raise our profile and try to secure financial sponsorship for the following season. It was clear that I needed to rethink our team formation, motivate the players and raise morale."

Skip to 1 minute and 27 secondsNext, you'll need to walk through the actions you made. "Realising that the other team was stronger than us in mid-field, I reorganised the team to play five in the mid-field, detailing our strongest defender to mark their strongest forward closely to stop her from getting into a forward position. Reminding the team that we had a better record for scoring goals over the season compared to our opposition improved their confidence and lifted their morale." Finally, describe the result. "By applying these changes and encouraging the team throughout the second half, we managed to break through their mid-field and scored two goals to win the cup. We also secured financial sponsorship for the next season ensuring that we can continue playing."

Use STAR

Use the ‘STAR’ technique to help you structure your answer:

‘STAR’ (Situation, Task, Action and Result) can help you provide a concise and effective answer to competency based questions.

  • Situation - provide some brief details about the situation you were in when you used your competencies so that the reader can understand the context of the example.
  • Task - outline what your objective or purpose was during that situation, again, to put your answer into context.
  • Action - describe what you did in that situation and how you approached it.
  • Result - state the outcome, for example: Were the objectives met? What did you learn/gain from being in that situation?

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This video is from the free online course:

How to Succeed at: Writing Applications

The University of Sheffield

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