What is the STARR answer technique, and how do I use it?

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Serena Vaughan - Early Careers Attraction, Diversity, Engagement Manager

Fidelity International

We know that interviews can be daunting. One of the best ways to feel confident is do your research, think about some of the questions which might come up, and practice delivering answers to common questions. We’ve already spoken about how you can prepare by identifying your strengths . In this article, we will talk you through a good structure for explaining how you’ve demonstrated those strengths before.

What is the STARR technique?

STARR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result
  • Reflection

Using this technique to structure your answers is an easy way for you to check that you are giving an interviewer the right depth of information. You have very likely heard of the STAR method; at Fidelity International, we like to add the extra R for reflection - we think that reflecting on your actions and how you might do something differently next time, can be the difference between a good answer and a GREAT answer.

How can I use STARR in my answers?

Here’s an example of how you might answer an interview question using STARR!

  • Situation/Context – Demonstrate an understanding of the strength and why it is important:
    • I anticipate in my intern/graduate programme at Fidelity, I will be working across and for multiple teams. This may mean that I have multiple conflicting deadlines. Flexibility will be really important to manage this well, as well as stakeholder management.
  • Task – Show an understanding of how this strength relates to the role/programme you have applied for:
    • Staying too fixed on a plan, when I’ve received new information or a new deadline, could mean I fail to prioritise the most critical tasks. Flexibility and agility will be required to constantly re-evaluate my workload and ensure I am focusing on high-value and urgent tasks first. I also need to ensure that when I do this, I am keeping stakeholders informed of any delays or adjustments, so they have a reasonable expectation of what I can deliver, and by when.
  • Action – how would you demonstrate these strengths? How have you done so in the past?
    • At the beginning, I would ask my manager and mentor for advice and structure to help me understand what is most important and to prioritise my work. You need to understand the different stakeholders and tasks well to be able to prioritise independently, so I anticipate I will need support to do this initially.

However, I can also put in place structures to help me keep on top of all of the different deadlines and tasks I’ve been asked to do, as well as my plan for how I think I should approach them. In the past I’ve used a colour-coded calendar, and to-do lists, which helped me when I revised for my exams. The colour-coding helps me see if I have spent too much time on a particular task depending on the value, and I used to do my to-do lists the evening before, so when I started my day, I already knew what I had to do. I find this makes me much more effective, as I waste much less time when I have a plan for the day already.

As I said, I also know that I will need to be adaptable and reprioritise from day to day. I should also constantly communicate with my team so they are aware of what is on my plate, and any areas where I might need support or where I am concerned that I may struggle to meet a deadline. I am used to having fixed deadlines, like for assignments, so I think this is something I will need to adjust to. I am excited for the challenge.

  • Result – What do you think the result will be?
    • By proactively managing my workload and conflicting deadlines, I will ensure that I can support my team, flag any issues before they become a serious problem, meet deadlines, and ensure that I am providing strong customer service to our clients.
  • Reflection – Where have you done this in the past, what did you learn, and what?
    • Whilst I attended university, I have worked in hospitality to earn extra money. To make this a success, I had to be very organised both in my work and personal life. My shifts changed week-to-week, and so I had to plan my work around them flexibly. In reality, this often meant starting work on assignments far in advance in advance to ensure that I was prioritising my studies and that my work didn’t have a negative impact.
    • Once, I got given 18 hours of shifts on the week before an assignment was due. This was 8 hours more than my normal pattern. I couldn’t find shift cover and wasn’t able to take it off. On that occasion, I spoke to a lecturer who gave me an extension so I could finish my assignment on my off-days the following week. I believe the extension was granted because I typically managed my work with my shifts very well, and so a request for an extension was unusual.

How do I use STARR to prepare for an assessment centre?

Once you have identified your strengths, come up with some examples of how you have identified them - at work, in your personal life, at school, or at university. Use the STARR technique to write out these examples and practice speaking them aloud. You can also see if the employer has published a success profile, like the key strengths in our article here , to guide you.

Fidelity has apprenticeship, internship, industrial placement, and graduate roles available across our business, from Equity Research to Sustainable Investing to Sales and Marketing to Innovation and Digital Design. All of our roles are designed to give you a broad experience, and help you feel empowered to kickstart your career. We hope this article has been helpful; we look forward to receiving an application from you soon!

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