Competency Based Interviews: STAR vs IPAR

In Ireland the Public Service favours a competency based approach when Interviewing candidates. This Interview structure is very formal and in many cases can be hard for the Interviewee to demonstrate who they are to the Interview Panel. The Public Service uses a competency based approach as they can score each competency asked and provide Interview transparency in the hiring process.

The reality is there are both Positives and Negatives for both the Interviewer and Interviewee when it comes to competency based Interviews. The Interviewer wants evidence that the Interviewee has previously demonstrated the competency asked and also wants to know to what level they have demonstrated it. The Interviewee needs to provide a structured response that answers the competency being asked but also engages the attention of the Interview Panel. The reality is not many people can tell a story and engage an audience they have never met before this is why the STAR and IPAR approaches are key tools in keeping you on track and keeping the Interview Panel engaged.

STAR Method

SITUATION: This step sets the stage for the story by describing the context or scenario in which the competency was demonstrated.

TASK: It outlines your specific role or responsibilities within that situation.

ACTION: This is where you explain the actions you took to address the situation or task.

RESULT: This part discusses the outcomes or results of your actions, ideally focusing on positive achievements and impact.

IPAR Method

INTRODUCTION: Similar to the “Situation” in the STAR method, the introduction in IPAR sets the scene and introduces the people involved.

PROBLEM: Instead of “Task” in STAR, IPAR focuses on the challenges or problems you encountered in the scenario.

ACTION: This step is where you describe what actions you took to address the problem.

RESULT: Just like the STAR method, you discuss the results or outcomes of your actions, though IPAR may involve addressing negativity if present in the scenario.

The choice between these two methods depends on the nature of the competency-based question and your personal style. STAR tends to emphasize positive aspects, making it a more straightforward and optimistic approach. However, IPAR may be more appropriate when the scenario involves overcoming significant challenges or adversity.

In both cases, the goal is to provide structured, concise, and engaging responses to competency-based interview questions. These methods help candidates demonstrate their strengths effectively and keep the interview panel engaged.

If you’re preparing for a competency-based interview, using one of these approaches can certainly help you stay on track and present your qualifications effectively. Remember that interviewers may also follow up with probing questions, so being well-prepared and adaptable is crucial.

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