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PAR vs STAR Interview Techniques – Choosing the Right Approach

14 Feb 2024 |

By Sophia Voce


When it comes to job interviews, mastering the art of effectively communicating one's skills and experiences is paramount. When you apply for a job through VWA, your dedicated Recruitment Consultant is committed to helping you through every step of the process, from exploring competencies and work-style preferences, through to giving you a thorough briefing prior to interview.

In this week’s article we are going to explore two popular frameworks for structuring interview responses. These are the PAR (Problem, Action, Result) and STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) techniques:

While both methodologies aim to showcase a candidate's abilities through real-life examples, they differ in their emphasis and approach. Let's explore the nuances of each technique to help you determine which one best suits your interview preparation strategy.

Understanding the PAR Technique:

The PAR technique, as previously discussed, centres around three key elements: Problem, Action, and Result. Candidates using this approach identify a specific problem or challenge they encountered in the past, detail the actions they took to address it, and highlight the positive outcomes or results of their efforts. The PAR technique is known for its simplicity and clarity, making it easy for candidates to craft concise and impactful responses.

Understanding the STAR Technique:

The STAR technique, on the other hand, expands upon the PAR framework by adding an additional component: Situation. Candidates using the STAR approach begin by describing the specific situation or context in which the problem arose. They then outline the task or objective they were tasked with, detail the actions they took to address the challenge, and finally, discuss the results or outcomes of their efforts. The STAR technique provides a more comprehensive view of the candidate's thought process and decision-making abilities.

Comparing the Two Techniques:

Structure and Emphasis:

PAR: The PAR technique places greater emphasis on the actions taken to address a problem and the results achieved. It is straightforward and focuses on demonstrating the candidate's ability to effectively solve problems and deliver results.

STAR: The STAR technique adds an additional layer of structure by including the situation or context in which the problem occurred and the task or objective the candidate was assigned. It provides a more detailed overview of the candidate's thought process and decision-making abilities.

Complexity and Detail:

PAR: The PAR technique is relatively simple and easy to understand, making it ideal for candidates who prefer a straightforward approach. It allows for concise responses that highlight the candidate's key accomplishments and contributions.

STAR: The STAR technique is more complex and detailed, requiring candidates to provide a thorough account of the situation, task, actions, and results. While it offers a comprehensive view of the candidate's abilities, it may be more challenging to master and execute effectively.

Flexibility and Adaptability:

PAR: The PAR technique offers flexibility in how candidates structure their responses, allowing them to focus on the most relevant aspects of their experiences. It is adaptable to various interview questions and scenarios.

STAR: The STAR technique follows a rigid structure, which may limit its applicability to certain interview questions or contexts. Candidates must carefully adhere to the prescribed format, which may feel restrictive in some cases.

So Which Approach Should I Choose?

When deciding between the PAR and STAR techniques, consider your personal preferences, interview style, and the specific requirements of the job you're applying for. The PAR technique is ideal for candidates who prefer a straightforward and concise approach, while the STAR technique offers a more detailed and structured framework for showcasing your abilities. Your dedicated VWA Consultant can help you to decide which approach would work best for you.

Ultimately, the key to interview success lies in effectively communicating your skills, experiences, and accomplishments in a clear and compelling manner. Whether you choose to use the PAR or STAR technique, practice articulating your responses and selecting examples that best demonstrate your suitability for the role. With preparation and confidence you'll be well-equipped to ace your next interview and land the job of your dreams.

Ready to apply for your next challenge? Why not head over to our live vacancies board now: www.vwa.com/jobs

Want to talk to one of our Consultants about how we can support you? Send us an email now: recruit@vwa.com

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