You’ve snagged a big interview, and you’re feeling pretty confident about it.

Until a friend asks, “Are you ready for those trendy competency-based questions?”

Whether it’s for application forms or interviews, you’re going to have to get pretty good at answering competency questions if you want to nail that interview.

How you handle competency questions can be the difference between getting a better job with a higher salary and getting rejected at the door. Hiring Managers want to see your experiences, examples of you as a leader, as a winner.

And don’t panic if you haven’t officially led a team or have management experience. By answering via the STAR framework, you can provide core competency examples from almost any experience in life; it’s not just limited to your studies or work experience.

As a result, it’s important to practice replying to such questions. To make it even easier for you, try using the STAR framework and examples laid out below.

How To Use the Star Method

When using the STAR method, it’s best to keep your answer concise and show what impact you made in each particular example.

Situation: briefly describe the situation and set the scene.
Task: what was your objective in this situation?
Action: what action did you take to tackle the issue?
Result: what was the outcome of your actions? Was the issue resolved?

Examples of STAR Performance

Question: “Tell me about a time you made a mistake.”

Expert Tip: Now this is a tricky question! The interviewer is looking to see how you learn from your mistakes. While it helps to answer using an interesting story, you must explain how you resolved the problem.

Example: When I was on my Duke of Edinburgh Gold trek, I was in charge of map reading and leading our team. However, I made an error reading the compass and took us nearly a kilometre off course. The team were understandably very frustrated; it was getting late and we were all tired. I knew the important thing was to apologise, explain how I had made the mistake and reassure them it wouldn’t happen again. I offered to cook dinner that evening when we got to the campsite to apologise. I learnt to always double check my decisions, especially when they involve a compass!

Question: “Can you tell me about a time you have dealt with an angry or irate customer?”

Expert Tip: Make sure you set the scene and explain what you proactively did to turn the situation around. Say what the result was, emphasising what you learned from the experience. If you haven’t had a situation like this with a customer, try adapting the story to address a difficult team member (in a job or in group work), or an angry person at a club or activity you participated in.

Example: When I was on my gap year, I worked in retail in the run up to Christmas as a way to make some money for travelling. One day, I had a customer who was very angry that the toy he had planned to purchase for his child was completely sold out. He started shouting at me, blaming me for the lack of stock. I calmly spoke to him, assuring him that I understood his problem and that if he gave me a minute, I would do everything in my power to try and help him. He calmed down slightly, which gave me the time to look up stock of the toy at another of our stores, and was then able to reserve a toy for him to collect elsewhere. He thanked me for my action and apologised for his shouting. I learned to be patient, not take it personally, and do what I could to resolve the situation calmly.

The STAR framework can be used with a variety of questions. This powerful tool enables you to provide concise examples of your contributions, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

If you give it a try, be sure to let us know how it goes!

About the Author: Jack Shardlow is the chief editor of Interview Bull Blog. Interview Bull provides affordable and personalised online interview coaching, specifically designed for students and recent graduates. Interview Bull’s experienced HR experts coach ambitious students to get the jobs they want through success at interview.