STAR methodology as competence based interview technique

In the competences based interview the interviewer tries, by asking a number of focused questions to form an opinion on the skills of a candidate on certain behavior criteria.

The star methodology as competence based interview technique.

In the competences based interview the interviewer tries, by asking a number of focused questions to form an opinion on the skills of a candidate on certain behavior criteria. The interview is based on gathering evidence/proof from the past of the candidate on behavior skills on a certain criterion.

A very handy tool in competence focused interviewing is the STAR model. The letters STAR are the beginning letters of the key words Situation, Task, Action and Result. In the interview the candidate has to be motivated to give concrete examples of situations from the past that can be compared to situations in the future.

Components of a STAR

S = Situation → In which situation was the candidate?
T= Task → What task (assignment / responsibilities) did the candidate had and what exactly was expected of this person in this situation? Or what was his/her responsibility?
A= Action → What did the candidate actually say or do (or fail to do)?
R= Result → What was the effect of the action of the candidate? What happened after?


“The best predictor of future performance is past performace in similar circumstances. The more recent and more longstanding the past behaviour has been, the greater its predictive power is.”

Tom Janz

What makes a good STAR?
A good STAR analysis is based on recent behavior and a reflection of an actual event. Make sure the STAR is derived from the candidate’s own words and prevent yourself from jumping into conclusions too early. Behavior, being effective or not, is depending on the context. That is why it’s necessary to gather information on all components of the STAR. In the end, a good STAR makes you able to assess the influence of the situation on the result. (To what extent is the result due to behavior or to circumstances?). Next to that, a good STAR makes you able to determine whether the actual result (the R in STAR) fits with the expected result (the assigned task: the T in STAR)

Your role as interviewer: Stimulate – Summarize – Keep on asking

Ask open questions, but keep being in control

Keep in mind that the open questions are asked for a very specific goal; to get information on a specific competence. From the moment we feel the candidate is not giving us relevant information anymore, the interviewer must bring the candidate back on track. Dare to interrupt in a polite but determined way. Notify the candidate that you would like to get into that specific question or that concrete situation since our time is limited and you also want to hear about other things.

Help your candidate to give examples of behavior and keep on asking

Not sometimes, but very often the interviewer must really help the candidate to remember and explain concrete situations. The type of questions associated with the STAR methodology go beyond the regular interview format, and therefore probably go beyond the answers the candidate prepared in advance.  When this happens, you must be supportive. Perhaps ask the question in a different way, encourage, and tell the candidate to take his/her time. Dare to deal with silence. These questions are indeed not very easy.

Contrary evidence

Sometimes the example of behavior shows a negative spiral of behavior. Discuss this thoroughly and look for contrary evidence.Have you experienced hiring mistakes due to a mis evaluation of the required competences? Do you perceive the process of competence based interviewing as challenging? Or are you curious to learn more about our experiences using this methodology?

Let’s connect!  or read our other article about competence based interview techniques

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