Student Handbook

The following Hallam Award Student Handbook contains everything you need to know in one handy place.


STAR Guide

When you are submitting for each level of the Award we ask you to reflect on a challenge and a success you’ve had in developing each Attribute. To do this we ask you to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) Technique which is designed to help you write detailed situation-based answers that you could also use in job applications and interviews.  The following video is a great introduction to the STAR Technique…

Click on the link below for information on the STAR Technique: what it is, how to use it and how it can benefit your future career prospects…

STAR technique

or read below:

The STAR technique is a way to structure your answers in job applications or interviews. It is a structured way of responding to a behavioural or competencybased question, by focusing on the specific Situation, Task, Action and Result of the instance you are describing. The approach can also be used on job application forms, and is standard practice among major graduate recruiters.

STAR stands for:

Situation / setting – what was the situation and when did it take place?

Task – what task was it, and what was the objective? Describe the situation that you were confronted with or the task that needed to be accomplished. With the STAR approach you need to set the context. Make it concise and informative, concentrating solely on what is useful to the story.

Action – what action did you take to achieve this? This is the most important section of the STAR approach as it is where you will need to demonstrate and highlight the skills and personal attributes that the question is testing. Now that you have set the context of your story, you need to explain what you did.

Results – what happened as a result of your action? Explain what happened eventually – how it all ended. Also, use the opportunity to describe what you accomplished and what you learnt in that situation. This helps you make the answer personal and enables you to highlight further skills.

Example 1
• Situation: I was selected by my Course Leader to be a Course Rep.

• Task: I was responsible for gathering feedback from students to pass on to course staff in a timely and appropriate manner.

• Action: After a few weeks, I had emailed students on my course several times asking for feedback but had received no responses. I needed to find a way to effectively gather feedback from students. I set up a Facebook group for my course and invited everyone to join. To make sure that everyone knew about it, I asked one of my lecturers if I could have 5 minutes in a lecture to speak to students and I stood at the front and told them about the group. I posted questions about the course in the group and asked students to post their replies. I also left a suggestion box at the helpdesk in our building so that students could submit anonymous comments. I emptied the suggestion box each week and collated the feedback.

• Results: Using the Facebook group and suggestion box, I received over 50 comments from students, which I was able to collate and feed back to staff. I learnt that broadening my communication channels and actively seeking new ways of working was the best way to interact with my fellow peers. On reflection, this experience has changed how I approach tasks like this.

Example 2
• Situation: While working at Art Studios, I was responsible for managing the volunteers and interns (which included local students, international students and graduates).

• Task: This involved recruitment, interviews, conducting review meetings and writing references.

• Action: For each intern or volunteer I also create a detailed work plan outlining their key responsibilities and duties. For each person I also held regular one to one meetings to review progress and to discuss targets.

• Results: I feel this experience has provided me with a good understanding what qualities and skills employers look for when recruiting which would be beneficial to this post.

Top Tips
By practicing this approach to storytelling, you can prepare effectively for job applications and interviews. You may have more than one example to use, so try to use examples that:
• are highly relevant and best elicit the skill or competency being asked for
• clearly demonstrate action as opposed to theory or principles
• clearly demonstrate your contribution to a scenario – e.g. use phrases such as ” I did…” instead of “we did…”
• have a positive outcome
• you can talk comfortably about if asked to expand upon your answer
• are specific – so if the question asks for an example, use only one example


The STAR technique in graduate recruitment
The following guidance is from Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s recruitment website:

Competency questions make up a large part of most job interviews and from a company’s point of view they allow an objective assessment of a candidate’s experience, and the qualities that make them suitable for the job. Thankfully there’s a tried and tested technique that will help you to answer these tricky situations.

It’s known as the STAR technique and by using questions that require these types of answers it is easier for the employer to compare all the people who are applying for the job in a methodical and structured way.

By using this step-by-step method you will be able to answer each question in a systematic manner, without forgetting the important stuff.

Which questions need a STAR response?

The questions will usually start along the lines of “tell me about a time when you”. This will be followed by those competencies that have been listed on the job specification, so it is important to be familiar with these so that you can prepare. Asking about soft skills such as teamwork, negotiation and communication is especially popular for graduate job interviews.

A lot of the questions will require you to think about past work experiences you’ve had. For those who are applying for internships, apprenticeships or have no previous work experience, you can still talk about extra-curricular activities, what you achieved while being a member of a university society, or school projects you have been involved in, as an example.

The answer to these questions will usually be between a minute and three minutes long.

This is about setting the scene, giving a context and background to the situation. So if you’re asked a question about time management, your reply would need to include the details of the project you were working on, who you were working with, when it happened and where you were.

This is more specific to your exact role in the situation. You need to make sure that the interviewer knows what you were tasked with, rather than the rest of the team.

This is the most important part of the STAR technique, because it allows you to highlight what your response was. Remember, you need to talk about what you specifically did, so using ‘I’ rather than team actions – otherwise you won’t be showing off the necessary skills the employer is looking for.

Be sure to share a lot of detail, the interviewer will not be familiar with your history, although remember to avoid any acronyms and institutional language.

What you’re trying to get across here is how you assessed and decided what was the appropriate response to the situation, and how you got the other team members involved – which in turn is a great way to demonstrate your communication skills.

For example if you are asked about dealing with a difficult personality on your team you would talk about how you decided to take a certain course of action to avoid making the situation worse or upsetting the individual.

The result should be a positive one, and ideally one that can be quantified. Examples include repeat business, an increase in sales by 15% or saving the team 5 hours a week. The interviewer will also want to know what you learnt from that situation, and if there was anything you’d do differently the next time you were faced with that situation.

The STAR technique enables you to showcase your relevant experience with the interviewer in a methodical manner. We recommend doing some in-depth preparation before the interview so that you can have some great examples to quote.

For more information about the STAR technique, check out the links below:

or watch: