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Working in diverse teams
Working in diverse teams

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3.1 Bad examples of using STAR

Have a look now at some bad examples of answers to team-based competency questions from the University of Kent Careers website.

Table 1 Bad examples of STAR
The Bad
During the final year of my electronics degree, we were grouped into teams to work on projects and I was told I was to be the leader.Did not volunteer for the role

The groups were assigned at random so that we found ourselves working with people who we did not know particularly well and we needed to assess one another's strengths and weaknesses quite quickly to divide up the work of the project.

Our project involved designing and building a power meter to measure the output from a high-power pulsed infra-red laser. Each member of the group was assigned responsibility for a specific part of the work and we met weekly to discuss and assess our progress.

No mention of his own contribution which could have been tiny – everything refers to ‘we’ or the group as a whole

We were given a mark of 62% for our project.

No individual mark given
The Ugly
One example of where I made a difference was when a group of my mates and I had to decide which pub to go to. I took on the responsibility of making the decision.Did not get the backing of the group: decided for himself.
One of my mates is into Real Ale and so wanted to go to the Red Lion, but another likes music so he wanted the Kings Head. Using my initiative I suggested we go to the Jolly Roger which was showing the Liverpool – Bolton match on Sky Sports. With my skills of persuasion (I offered to buy the first round!) I convinced them all to come with me to the Jolly Roger.No account taken of the wishes of the other group members.


(courtesy of the Kent University Careers website)

Now you have considered what a bad example of an answer to a competency-based question might look like and why. So, what kind of things could you mention in the action part of STAR to make it a good answer? Some of the things you might want to think about are:

  • your role in the team (consider function, technical and personality/character roles)
  • how you kept the team on task
  • what you did in particular to contribute to the aim
  • how you split up the task into who did what and why
  • how you dealt with any conflict during the Storming phase and what you did to successfully move the group into the next stage
  • what skills you had to use to communicate effectively with the team – for example to negotiate, challenge and motivate
  • what you learnt from this experience and what you might do differently if you had to do it again.

Activity 3 Look back in wonder

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Have a look again at the answer you provided in Activity 1 when you considered what you might say to a competency-based question on teamwork. How would you change this answer to incorporate what you have learned about using STAR?

Use the STAR tool in the toolkit [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   to record examples of team experience you may want to draw on in an interview (open the toolkit in a new tab or window and come back here when you are done). Using this tool will help you consider this experience in light of this structure and ensure that you are covering all the points in the examples you use.

You may find this is a good place to record your examples of competencies and start to build up a bank of examples you feel confident to draw on when you are next in a job interview.


How did you find that? Don’t worry if you found it difficult as the more you consider examples in this way the better you will become!

It can be difficult to think about the particular contribution you have made. We are so used to framing things as a team effort that working out what you did and what difference you made can be hard.

Using the STAR framework will help ensure that your answers focus on your particular role and ensure that you communicate this to the employer. If you find yourself saying ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ in your answers you know you are veering off track and need to ask yourself again ‘what did I do?’

Next you will look at how best to demonstrate your teamwork skills in a group assessment activity.