I’ve been to many interviews in my working life. Some of them have been successful and some have been complete disasters. I’m sure we all have colourful stories we could share with each other.

Let’s face it, interviews are always nerve-wracking. You want that dream job and you badly want to make a good impression. You arrive at the interview in plenty of time. You dress smartly and you think that you look the part. The initial questions about yourself go well and then we get to the competency-based (skills) questions. You know, those questions that start with:

  • “Tell me about the time when ….”*
  • “Describe a situation where you …..”*

This is when you have to give the interviewer real examples of situations and show them what you’re capable of. It’s your chance to shine through. Your response will be the deciding factor of whether you get the job or not.

This experience is challenging enough in your own language let alone in another language. Not only have you got to think on your feet,but you’ve also got to ensure that you don’t make too many language mistakes and sound eloquent. So, how do you prepare to answer competency-based questions for an interview in English?

Why, you use the STAR technique, of course!

And to introduce you to this, may I present you to my fellow trainer, Christina Rebuffet-Broadus’ excellent video? Christina is a freelance Business English trainer based in France. Her You Tube channel offers superb Business English tips ranging from “How to ask a Visitor if they need the toilet” to “Talking About Wine in English”. Her videos last 6 minutes each and she releases a video each week. Christina is American and she gives some excellent tips on American English and the requirements that American companies have of potential employees. I would encourage you to subscribe to her channel.

Christina released the video below last week and when I saw it I just knew I had to share it with you, my readers. In the video, she shows learners how to use the STAR technique to answer interview questions.

Step One: Watch the Video

Step Two: Let’s recap

This is what Christina says.

To avoid ‘losing your bearings’ and forgetting key details, use:

Situation – give the context of your story

Task – describe the action you needed to take or the solution you needed to find

Activity – describe the action you took

Result – What happened in the end as a result of your action

Christina gives an example of how to apply this technique by imagining that you have to answer the following interview question:

“Tell me about a time when you had to save a project that was going very badly?”

When using the STAR technique Christina adds that you need to:

a) Be specific
Talk about precise projects, give precise figures and successes. DON’T be vague.

b) Keep your answers short and straight to the point
She suggests one or two sentences per answer. Recruiters don’t have the time to listen to long drawn-out answers.

c) Create a stock of pre-prepared answers
Imagine probable questions you might be asked and prepare a list of answers. That way you will feel more confident answering in English.

I am really indebted to Christina for preparing this video and allowing me to share it with you here on English with a Twist. I, for one, know that my clients will find it invaluable. I can’t wait to use the technique with my next client who requires help with their interviewing skills.

I hope you found the post helpful. If you did, please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive my posts directly into your inbox.