STAR Model – How Candidates are Judged Based on Experience at the Job Interview

star modelBy Melisa Marzett

The question of choosing the “right” person for a job is always of universal interest and does not depend on the economic situation in the state, the market, or other factors. Usually, the recruiter considers two main questions during the interview and assessment of the candidate:

  • Can the candidate adequately cope with the tasks assigned at the new place of work?
  • Is s/he able to sufficiently fulfill the functions?

HR departments typically use behavioral interviews for job interview competencies. The most effective in this sense is the STAR model. It is simple and allows candidates to reveal the primary information about themselves with the help of behavioral examples from their previous experience.

The competency interview consists of three phases.

First Stage: Preparatory

Before starting the interview, the recruiter plans questions based on the profile of the position and the necessary competencies of a particular workplace. As an example, the pattern of interview for a Sales Representative and Manual QA Engineer at the same company will include a single set of corporate competencies and a completely different set of professional skills for the specific position.

Corporate competencies for both positions include:

  • Commitment to results
  • Customer-oriented approach (internal or external)
  • Effective communication and impact
  • Compliance standards and workplace discipline

Professional for the sales representative will be:

  • Basics of product promotion
  • Basics of territory management
  • Sales technique

Professional skills for the Manual QA Engineer will be:

  • Understanding the software development process
  • Basics of functional testing methods
  • Basics of test analysis and test case development

Second Phase: Conducting an Interview

In addition to asking a set of general interview questions to get acquainted, the task of the interviewer is to obtain a sufficient number of examples from the experience of the candidate, to determine the degree of competence development.

The main thing is to avoid generalized information from the applicant, describing not the actual behavior, but rather his idea of ​​the optimal way to solve cases.

Competency questions aim to clarify a person’s behavior in real-life situations. Therefore, the STAR model helps to check the applicant effectively.

STAR Model:

  • S – the situation. What was the situation? What was it? What were its features?
  • T – target. What was your goal? What did you want to achieve/get?
  • A – action. What were your actions? What did you do?
  • R – result. What have you achieved? How has the situation changed? What happened as a result?

During the interview process, the candidate tells about specific situations in his or her life. An applicant will be asked to talk about real cases and examples when he or she coped with a non-standard situation. The candidate must first describe the job, then identify the tasks to solve it, and also indicate the specific actions that led to a particular result.

However, there is a “danger.” The candidate will not always answer questions on the STAR model system. For example, if the applicant talks about “improving the quality of the product,” then they must explain what the shortcomings were, what the product was initially, what goals the product developers set, how many people were involved in the work, what were the deviations from the initial action plan. If they do not do so, the recruiter will have to ask, so don’t hesitate to clarify.

For an objective assessment of each competency, it is necessary to obtain at least two examples of the candidate’s experience. If you as the candidate find yourself in the position of being asked these types of questions but you can’t come up with an example from on-the-job experience, simply provide a suitable example from your volunteer, school, or life experience.

Third Stage: Analysis of Interview Results

The competency assessment is carried out only after the interview, based on the facts and examples given. I always recommend that recruiters record important information during the interview – this will allow them to not lose sight of anything, as sometimes it’s easy to forget things.

Look at your comments on the candidate’s answers, consistently evaluate the development of each competency, analyze the level of competence expression according to the STAR model. Do this only after the interview is over, and not at the time.

It is important to remember: insufficient development of any competencies is not a bad “sentence” for a candidate. Most skills are amenable to growth if you feel like it.

Often the scale used by the company determines the level of development of competence. It consists of four levels:

  • Advanced level
  • Sufficient level
  • Insufficient level
  • Low level

To assess competence, we usually ask the following questions in a logical bundle:

  • Recall and tell about the most significant potential client with whom you have negotiated cooperation.
  • How did you prepare for these talks/meetings?
  • What goal did you set for yourself?
  • How did you act during the negotiations?
  • What is the result of the talks you got?

Also, consider possible answers.

Case No. 1. “They gave me the contacts of a large potential client who does not cooperate with us. I made an appointment. On the appointed day, I took some printed materials and business cards, and went to see the potential client. The leader set the purpose of the meeting – to sell our product. During the meeting, I presented our product, discussed the terms of cooperation, and outlined loyalty programs for existing customers. As a result of the presentation, the potential client said that he needed to think about the proposed terms of cooperation. However, at this stage, he was not ready to agree.”

Case No. 2. “We have been working with Company X for a year now. Usually, we conduct regular analytics of potential customers. As it happened, in our field of vision we came upon a large corporation “X,” which was not our client. The head set the task to produce a cooperation agreement with company “X.” I began to collect information about the potential client. I found out that my colleagues had already tried to agree earlier on a meeting with the management of the company “X.” However, company “X” for a long time had been working with our competitors on deferred payment. I managed to arrange a meeting with the potential client. The purpose of the meeting was to build communication with the decision makers on cooperation. During this meeting, we talked a lot with the client. It was a dialogue, and not just a presentation of our company and services. It was important for me to find out what is valuable for them in working with the current supplier, and what is missing in this cooperation. During the meeting, I received a large amount of information, upon which we formed a unique one-of-a-kind commercial offer for company “X.” After the second meeting, company “X” decided to start doing business with us.”

In the answers of candidate No. 1, we observe an insufficient level of development of “customer orientation” competence, and No. 2 shows an adequate, and for some behavioral indicators, even an advanced level of development of skill. To obtain an objective assessment of the degree of development of competence, we need to get at least one more (and preferably two) examples of situations from the candidate.

About the Author: Melisa Marzett was a candidate, too, and has more than 8 years of experience as a freelance writer currently working on how to write infographic resume, so she can tell that getting a job is difficult. But for those who are persistent and curious, who are hardworking and self-rigorous, nothing is impossible.

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