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Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

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Becoming an interview STAR

Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

Many employers, especially the Australian Public Service, prefer the STAR method to answer your interview questions. This structure makes it clear to the employer how you work by getting you to tell a story that exemplifies your skills.

The STAR structure makes it clear to the employer how you work by getting you to tell a story that exemplifies your skills.  

What is the STAR model? 

STAR is an acronym which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It outlines the context, defines the goal,  shows how you completed it, and why it was important. You may find employers prompt you to respond using STAR within an interview, when they ask a question like “Tell me about a time when…”  


This is where you’ll set the scene of your story. You should provide short and direct context that applies to the situation, such as your role/position, relevant responsibilities and where you held that position. 

Sentences might include: 

When I was at [Company] as [Position], my responsibilities included… 

In my previous role as [Position] at [Company], I was in charge of… 


Now you will highlight the task, difficulty, or situation you faced. Inform your interviewer of the task, how you were involved within the task, and your overall end goal. Be sure not to highlight the actions you took, rather than speaking about your goals as a team. 

 Sentences might include: 

 The goal was… it was my responsibility to… 

I was assigned… 


 Next, outline the steps you took to work towards solving the problem. Be sure to use specifics, avoiding blanket statements or vague ideas.  

 Sentences might include: 

 In order to do that, I…  

Firstly I… following that, I then… 

I worked on… 


Finally, discuss the results, and most importantly, why it mattered. 

 Sentences might include:  

As a result…  

Because I… [Did action,] [Result]… 

This was important, because… 

How to prepare for interviews using STAR 

Though you can’t perfectly predict the interview questions you’ll be asked, you can prepare 3-5 STAR stories that you can usually adapt depending on the question. Many people don’t know that most employers allow you to take pre-written notes into an interview!  

Employers often look for experiences where you overcame a challenge, worked as part of a team or built a positive relationship with stakeholders to get the job done. Jot down the important points for each story, relating them back to STAR. Use your notes to practice telling your story, either to a friend, or to yourself in a mirror. Lastly, take your notes into the interview as a prompt, this is common practice and shows employers you’re prepared. 

Remember, employers want you to do your best, and so do we. The STAR model allows you to present who you are in the workplace as clearly as possible and puts you a step ahead of other candidates. Like anything, a skill takes time to perfect- so with a little bit of luck and a lot of practice, you’ll be an interview STAR in no time.