How to use the STAR method in job applications

How to use the STAR method in job applications

Using the STAR method in job applications is the secret weapon to blitz your competition and get the job you want.


During your job search, you may have noticed that some positions ask you to respond to selection criteria. It can take a lot of effort, but a well written selection criteria will make you stand out as desirable candidate.


So how do you make sure your selection criteria makes you look fantastic? The STAR method!



gify of a star fish moving

So what is the STAR method?


The STAR method is a template to answer selection criteria or interview questions. STAR stands for:


  • Situation - explain the context.
  • Task - explain the task at hand and how you used your skills, or explain the problem and your role to solve it.
  • Action/s - explain what you did to achieve the goal or solve the problem.
  • Result - explain what the end result was and how did this impact the organisation?


Your response to each letter may only come to one or two sentences. These sentences can be stitched together in the STAR method order to form a brief and informative paragraph. If you need to beef up your response, expand on some details or give two examples.


Why use the STAR method?


The Australian Public Service (APS) encourages using the STAR method when addressing selection criteria in their advice to applicants . So what's so good about it?

The STAR method:


  • Centres you and your actions in your response.
  • Helps you get your head around selection criteria and what is actually being asked.
  • Should stop you from rambling or going off point.
  • Helps you make your responses consistent and professional for each criteria.
  • Ensures you don't miss any details in your answers.


Examples of the STAR method at work in your job application


Examples are the best way to understand how to apply the method to different criteria. You will find some great ones online. We think this Sydney university resource and Australian Public Service Commission resource are helpful guides.

Example 1: a general overview of experience for a workshop assistant/ fabrication position


Question/selection criteria


An established technical understanding of a broad range of art-making and design construction techniques.


STAR method response


Situation: I have developed an in-depth understanding of a broad range of art-making and design construction techniques from my work in various art and design-related roles. These roles include my role as a studio assistant at XYZ studio, bike mechanic at ABC shop and my experience as a practising artist over the past 6 years.


Task: My experience in these roles has prepared me with vast technical knowledge of tools and materials relating to artwork installation and construction. My key knowledge areas relate to both painting and sculptural practices, although I also have a broad knowledge relating to most art-making and design construction techniques. I have significant experience with wood and metalwork tools, materials and techniques and some experience with casting. I have developed my technical understanding in these areas through my work as an artist and a studio assistant at XYZ studio. In addition, working as a bicycle mechanic for the past 5 years at ABC shop has also strengthened my understanding of design and engineering principles.


Action: My work in these roles has prepared me with the skill and understanding to solve difficult problems relating to artwork installation and construction. My familiarity with hand and power tools, welding techniques, joining and painting methods have allowed me to confidently formulate bespoke solutions to complex problems.


Result: I have fantastic troubleshooting and planning skills, which assist me in approaching complex problems. I can also confidently communicate my solutions with both drawing and verbal description.



Example 2: a general overview with a specific example for an administrative job


Question/selection criteria


Carrying out logistical and administrative tasks required to support team projects.


STAR method response


Situation: I have been working as a receptionist and administrative assistant for 6 years. I have a range of experience, including roles in State Government and non-Government organisations.


Task: It was essential in these roles that I exercise excellent logistical planning. My key responsibilities were the organisation of meetings, appointments and the allocation of resources. I was also required to monitor a number of inboxes and calendars relating to projects delivered by my team. In my most recent role in a State Government department, my primary responsibility was to manage AV and media production resource allocation across a number of teams.


Action: To help collate this information and communicate my work effort to team leaders, I implemented the use of a free project management software which integrated into existing mailbox and calendar systems. I set up automated reminders to trigger emails when resources were overdue and track the allocation of resources across individual projects.


Result: There were immediate short term results. There was an overall reduction in the number of overdue and missing items recorded. Other staff were able to manage and track resources in my absence, which was previously unachievable. Long term, the project management software was expanded across other teams in the organisation.


Final tips


  • Make sure you spend time understanding the job description and the selection criteria before you begin, it's a must!
  • Remember to only use examples relevant to the position you are applying for.
  • The STAR method only works if you understand the question being asked and address it in your response.