Interviews can be stressful. You can predict what some of the questions may be when being interviewed for your medical school place, but you cannot prepare for each and every question which is thrown at you. You should try and not memorise your answers as they can come off as robotic and less personal. Equally, you should try not and ramble when you are answering questions as you only have so much time to demonstrate how good you are! So, if you’re asked a difficult question at your interview, what should you do? Here we present some tips on how to structure your answers at interview. So when you’re answering a question, or if one takes you by surprise, resort to these tips to help you give the best answer possible!
The STAR Technique
The STAR technique is a way of structuring your answers at interviews which ensures that you cover important topics whilst avoiding the temptation to ramble. STAR stands for:
- Situation: Briefly outline your example
- Task: What did you have to do?
- Action: How did you approach the task? How did you complete it?
- Result: What was the outcome? What did you achieve?
As you can see, using the STAR technique allows you to cover all of the key areas whilst being efficient enough with your answer. The ideal time to use this structure is recommended for when you are answering competency based questions as it allows your interviewer to easily identify the skills you have used. Such scenarios include leadership, teamwork, conflict resolution, motivation, in depth knowledge, and technical skills related to the job specification (1). For an added bonus, you can also add a further ‘R’ to make the STARR technique, where this second ‘R’ stands for reflection. So if you have time after giving your example and discussing your outcome, you can briefly summarise what you learnt from this task. Reflection is another important skills interviewers are looking for evidence of!