Answering NHS interview questions – the STAR method 

  • February 12, 2020

We are often asked what the best way to answer questions requiring detailed answers is during an NHS interview. It is important that you answer any question honestly and from your own perspective and experiences. Here we take a look at one approach to structuring your answers, called the STAR technique. 

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result 

The technique is designed to help you to formulate clear, concise and relevant answers to competency-based or behavioural questions (questions that require you to give specific examples demonstrating particular skills, attributes or behaviours). Generally, you will have been asked to provide details or descriptions of a time when you have faced a problem or challenge, what steps you took to deal with it and what the outcome or results were. 

In answering competency-based or behavioural questions, you should be considering how to provide information for the panel to evaluate your mindset and your skillset. NHS employers will analyse your behaviours, values and approach to situations defined against the skills and qualities that high-level doctors have exhibited in the role you are applying for.

In your answers, NHS employers are looking for evidence of your clinical skills, problem solving skills, analytical ability, perseverance, team work and collaboration, quantitative skills, or expertise. 

STAR can be used to answer such questions; each letter stands for a part of your answer. 

S – Situation

Describe the context of the job, task or challenge that you were facing. Be specific. 

T – Task

Describe your duty or responsibility in this particular situation. 

A – Action

Describe how you completed the task or met the challenge. Focus on what you did, not what anyone else did. Say “I”. 

R - Result

Finally, explain the outcome or results that came about as a direct result of your actions. Emphasise what was achieved and what you learnt. 

We can’t predict what questions you will be asked during an NHS interview, but you’ll benefit from preparing several scenarios from the jobs you’ve held and what you anticipate will be required in the job you are applying for. 

We advise that you make a list of the skills and/or experiences that are required for the job. Take a look at the job description or personal specification to find the skills/qualities required in the role and match these to your qualifications or experience. Then, consider specific examples of occasions when you displayed those skills. For each example, name the situation, task, action, and result.

We also suggest that IMGs take a look at our series of articles on preparation for NHS interviews, giving you the best chance of securing the doctor role that you want in the UK.

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