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How should you structure your answers?

How do Admissions Tutors want you to structure your answers for maximum impact? Find out in this article
Two students talking
© University of York

It’s all well and good knowing what you want to say, or what you should show within your answer, but knowing how to articulate your answer is also really important for it to have maximum impact.

The key to this is to add structure and examples to your answer.

Structure techniques

You may find techniques like the STAR technique useful when thinking about skills and thoughts that you want to get across to the interviewer and how to add in evidence. For those of you who haven’t heard of the STAR technique before, it stands for:

  • Situation – describe a situation
  • Task – explain the end goal
  • Action – describe what you did and the skills you used
  • Result – conclusion and reflection

You want your answer to be honest, to highlight what you personally did and the skills you personally used (not your friend or the group as a whole if reflecting on a team situation!) and to relate to the course you are applying for.


The best way to evidence your answers is to ensure you provide examples. When talking to university interview assessors, the universal answer when asking how a candidate should structure their answer, is to provide examples. Your examples should be specific and show:

  • Rationale and reasoning
  • Research
  • Critical thinking
  • Consideration of other points of view
  • A clear understanding of the particular course you are applying for and how it is taught

Final tip

Make sure that you are showing yourself to your best advantage even through what you think is ‘small talk’ or just a light conversation with an interviewer, a member of the Admin team or a current student. Some interviews will be more ‘free flowing’ and interviewers will want to pick up a sense of who you are and how you would fit the course through general conversation. Often interview assessors will also ask for the opinions of any other staff or students involved in the day so it’s always best to make a good impression with everyone you come into contact with.

Have you used any other techniques to answer questions within an interview situation? If so, share them with the community in the discussion below!

© University of York
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