26 / Oct / 2016

How to be a STAR interviewer?

Imagine the situation where you have two equally good candidates for managing position – they have roughly the same working experience and psychological traits. How would you pick the right candidate for the job?


For managing positions some competencies are more important than others, like leadership, communication and problem solving skills. For evaluating these key competencies we often use competency based interview also known as behavioural interview. It is an interview based on questions which are trying to find out how a candidate used his specific skills for solving problems in the past, and how he approached those problems, challenges and tasks. This kind of interview is successful because it is considered that a past behaviour is a good predictor of a future behaviour. Additionally, through this kind of interview we collect information about candidate’s life experiences, personality, skills set and competencies. Most of the behavioural questions are trying to figure out how a candidate responds in a negative situation. In this way, we can see if the candidate has appropriate skills for the required job position.


Behavioural questions usually start with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Can you describe me a situation…” For example, if you are trying to assess the leadership:

“Tell me about the time when you needed to inspire your team.”

If you are trying to assess communication skills:

“Can you describe me a situation when you had to deal with an angry costumer?”

If you are trying to assess problem solving skills:

“Tell me about the time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem”.


If you want to apply a behavioural interview with a candidate who doesn’t have much working experience, you can ask him what he would do in a hypothetical situation. For example, “How would you inspire your team if you were the team leader”? They can base their answers on education or some other activities like sports.


As the candidates can’t easily predict questions on behavioural interview, they can get frustrated. To minimise this, interviewer should be patient and ask subquestions to guide the candidate in the right direction. What comes in handy is the STAR technique. Be sure you are getting answers to:

Situation – candidate must describe a specific situation and give you enough details to understand that situation

Task – candidate must describe what was required of him

Activity – candidate should tell you what he actually did in the situation, not what he planned to do

Result – candidate must tell you what the outcome of the situation was


In conclusion, we must define which competencies are important for each job position and design behavioural questions which will assess those competencies. Remember you are the one who is guiding the candidate through the questions, so use STAR technique to get better answers.


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Business photograph designed by Pressfoto – Freepik.com

>> Martina Jurkovic

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