Breeze through those interview questions everyone hates!

Welcome to the second blog in the #TuesdayTips series by CSA Personnel Consultants.

Each week we will guide and assist you with interview technique and ideas to help your interview preparation.

There are many types of interviews, from the free flowing to the formal, but one that you are likely to come up against at some point is the competency-based interview.


They’re designed to make the job application process as objective as possible, removing any conscious or subconscious bias by the interviewer by asking each candidate the same questions. They are very common, especially in large organisations and the public sector, so it’s worth practising your technique.

See below graphic which explains the STAR technique which we recommend to our candidates here at CSA.

STAR Interview Technique

The easiest way to explain the technique is to use an example. Lets say – a candidate for a customer services role is asked: “Describe a situation when you had to deliver excellent customer service following a complaint”

  • Situation: “A customer rang up complaining that they’d waited more than two weeks for a reply from our sales team regarding a product query.”
  • Task: “I needed to address the client’s immediate query and find out what went wrong in the normal process.”
  • Activity: “I apologised, got the details and passed them to our head salesperson, who contacted the client within the hour. I investigated why the query hadn’t been answered. I discovered that it was a combination of a wrong mobile number and a generic email address that wasn’t being checked. I let the client know and we offered a goodwill discount on her next order.”
  • Result: “The client not only continued to order from us but posted a positive customer service tweet.”

Used at its best, interviewer will not even realise you are using a rehearsed technique and it simply comes across as a well-articulated example. Create a bank of answers in this format in advance, so you don’t struggle to think of an answer on the spot and give you the best chance of interview success.

Sam Nicholson
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