We talk about the STAR technique a lot in recruitment, also known by the SOAR acronym.  It is a relatively easy, yet highly effective way of dealing with competency questions in a succinct manner.

These questions are designed to assess you against a set of core competencies for a role, seeking to set your capabilities in the context of your experience.  The actual competencies will vary dependant on the role, however there are a core set of marketing competencies published by the CIM that can provide you with a grounding.

Unfortunately, this style of questioning can lead some people to ramble around the topic or go off on a tangent without actually answering the interviewer’s question.

This is where the STAR technique comes in – it’s a great way of keeping you on track and delivering concise answers whilst showcasing your capabilities.

S: Scenario
Set the scene; give the competency you are describing a marketing context that is relevant to the role for which you are applying i.e. campaign related, brand related or insight based,

T: Task
Once you’ve established the context then elaborate on what your specific task was.  If the scenario was part of a team, then make sure you focus on your responsibilities.

A: Action
What actions did you carry out to complete the task?  This may have been leading campaign execution, or devising the strategy – keep this element to the point and don’t let yourself get carried away with too many details (although ensure you include some!).

R: Result
What was the outcome?  How did your contribution affect the outcome if it was a team project?  If you were solely responsible then describe how it impacted the wider marketing strategy, contributed to growth etc.?  This is where your metrics really come into play – employers want to know that you are focused measuring success and can account for your achievements.

The STAR technique in practice

So, let’s look at how the STAR technique plays out in real life with a commonly used marketing competency:

“Tell me how you have improved customer acquisition in a previous role?”

S: Scenario
In my previous role as a Marketing Manager part of my remit was the SME market, mainly comprised of mobile workers.  Attracting SME’s had historically proven to be a challenge for the business due to our premium supplier positioning and a traditional market perception of only working with larger businesses.

T: Task
I undertook the development of a new acquisition strategy to address the declining trend and increase our small customer numbers.  Once the strategy was developed and built into the broader business plan, I oversaw the successful implementation.

A: Action
The strategy focused on adjusting our positioning to SMEs; we shifted the focus of our sales channels to greater utilise partners and our e-commerce solution rather than traditional supply modes.  This allowed us to be more responsive to customers and better meet their needs, with the added benefit of reducing our cost to serve.

The strategy also included the use of new marketing channels to reach these customers, such as targeted online activity including search advertising and new use of social media channels.  Offline activity included traditional B2C channels including media (radio), billboard and event advertising carefully targeted at specific demographics within geographic locations.

R: Results
Within six months of launch we saw SME acquisition increase by 20% on the baseline which contributed to 15% of the new sales budget.  The new optimisation of sales channels saw the average SME customer spend also increase by 15%.  Overall, the ROMI for the project for the first six months (costs accounted accordingly) was 450%.

To conclude
What you are looking to demonstrate is how you employed the competency being assessed, whether this is strategy, influencing stakeholders, execution capability, or managing up; make sure you revise your capabilities and prepare in advance.

If in doubt, speak to your Recruitment Partner.  All of the team at Armstrong Lloyd are highly experienced at guiding candidates towards the right competencies and helping you to prepare thoroughly for all aspects of an interview so that you go in feeling confident and ready to shine.

Find the ideal job in marketing with Armstrong Lloyd.

Updated May 2, 2017