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Use STAR to help you structure an answer
STAR 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 a situation so that the reader or interviewer can understand the context of the example. Next identify the task, what needed to be done? Then describe the action 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.
So, for example, the interviewer or application form might say, “Give an example of when you have worked as part of a team to solve a problem.” First, describe the situation. “I’m the captain of Sheffield Holt, a local women’s football team. We recently played in the final of The Carly Cup against Leeds Lock. At halftime we were losing by two goals to one.” Then, identify the task. “This was the first time that we had 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.”
Next you’ll need to walk through the actions you made. “Realising that the other team was stronger than us in midfield, I reorganised the team to play five in midfield 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 of scoring goals of 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 midfield and score two goals to win the cup. We have also secured financial sponsorship for next season, ensuring that we can continue playing.”

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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How to Succeed at: Writing Applications

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