One of the areas of a company’s daily operations that consumes the largest share of resources – both time and money – is undoubtedly the recruitment of new employees. What’s more, you can never be sure that the person hired will prove themselves in the position and decide to stay with the company for the long term, to the satisfaction of both parties. To increase the likelihood of such an outcome, companies in various industries are turning to advanced recruitment techniques. Particularly popular among them is the so-called STAR method (or competence interview). Below we explain how this technique can be used to conduct interviews.

STAR method of interviewing – table of contents:

  1. STAR method – what does it consist of?
  2. Why is the STAR method suitable for conversation?
  3. Sample questions in the STAR method
  4. STAR method – summary

STAR method – what does it consist of?

The STAR method is most often referred to candidates for whom an interview can be a source of great stress – it guides how they should construct their answers to recruiters’ questions to show their best side. After all, an HR professional or hiring manager needs more than dry “yes” or “no” answers to be able to get to know and evaluate a person sufficiently. STAR is thus an acronym for the four elements of importance to the recruiter – Situation, Task, Action and Result. To apply this method, ask the candidate to elaborate on the following issues:

  • Refer to a situation that is relevant in the context of the question asked (the problem that arose),
  • Indicate what tasks were carried out and for what reason difficulties arose,
  • Outline what actions he has taken to solve the problem, and
  • Describe what were the results of the actions taken (positive and negative).

Why is the STAR method suitable for conversation?

The STAR technique allows the recruiter to effectively assess both hard (knowledge, experience, abilities) and soft (interpersonal, working under pressure, managing oneself in time, etc.) skills, making it possible to discover the candidate’s full potential. The STAR method encompasses four categories of questions that provide a frame of reference for acquiring the assessment. These concern learning candidates’ work experience, acknowledging the nature of performed tasks (which allows verification of hard competencies), the actions taken (in which soft skills will certainly be evident) and the results delivered.

Particularly important for the recruiter is the last mentioned element, as it somehow indicates what results the employee can bring to the company. Thus, one gets a preview of all the candidate’s skills, which significantly improves the processes conducted.

STAR method

Sample questions in the STAR method

Applying the method described above enables you to check both hard and soft competencies – however, it is imperative that after asking the first question you address further questions related to difficulties, actions taken or results. Of course, what questions to ask depends primarily on the position the candidate is applying for (especially about hard knowledge) or the level (rank vs. managerial). However, the following are the most common, general questions that are worth asking as “baseline” and can use the STAR method:

  1. How do you handle working under time pressure?
  2. How would you evaluate your interpersonal skills? In what situation were they relevant to you?
  3. Do you think you are a good leader?
  4. What was the most difficult problem you had to solve at work? From what did the situation arise, what actions did you take and what were the results?
  5. What goals have you been able to achieve at work?
  6. How did you handle a task involving another department or team?
  7. Tell about a situation where conflict arose in your team. How did you deal with it?
  8. Tell about a situation when you had to show initiative at work.
  9. Tell about a situation in which you felt proud of your accomplishments.
  10. Have you ever disagreed with your supervisor? Tell us about this situation.
  11. Have you ever had to acquire new skills at work in a short period?
  12. Do you ever make a mistake at work?

STAR method – summary

The most important characteristics that distinguish today’s labor market are undoubtedly high competition (companies outdo each other in conducting activities to attract candidates), difficulty in attracting top talent, and hiring processes that consume a large portion of resources (time and money). For this reason, companies in various industries are turning to advanced recruitment techniques – such as the STAR method – to ensure that the best person for the job is hired. If you’re looking to improve your company’s recruitment processes, reach for this very questioning technique. You will quickly see that a properly asked question is the basis of an effective interview.

Read also: Top 4 digital workplace trends to watch in 2023

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.