Have you heard of the STAR interview technique? It’s when an interviewer asks you a behavioral question (which usually begins, “Tell me about a time when you…”), and you respond by laying out the Situation, the Task you received, the Action you took, and then the Result you achieved. It’s an excellent method for MBA hopefuls to leverage in adcom or alumni interviews. But did you know you can use the STAR method for MBA essay writing as well?
We’ve found that it’s a helpful way to organize essays, short-answer responses, and even resume bullet points. For example, let’s take an essay that asks you to describe your greatest professional achievement — in only 300 words. When you use the STAR method for MBA essay writing, it helps you pare down all of the information you could possibly include.
You’ll want to set up the Situation for your reader as succinctly and clearly as possible. Leave out industry jargon, acronyms, and “inside baseball” details that will bore the adcom. Remember, they want to learn about what YOU did — not the intricate complexities of your company or client’s issue.
Next, pinpoint the Task for which you were responsible. Sure, business schools are looking for team players. But if they’ve asked you to describe your most impressive accomplishment, they want to understand what your marching orders were.
The Action section is where you should expand a bit more and use this chance to shine. Explain what you did specifically, and ideally, show how you went above and beyond in your role. Then, you can wrap up by revealing what Results you achieved. Keep in mind that both qualitative and quantitative outcomes are important to include, if possible.
After you’ve got your S, T, A, and R information covered in your essay, read through it again. Ensure the emphasis is on the Actions you took and the Results you achieved. We know it’s hard to condense what may sometimes be a years-long project into only a few sentences at the beginning. But it’s better to keep the focus on why YOU will be a welcome addition to any MBA program.
Your final task is to ensure that you’re within the word count limit and that you’ve told the story of your achievement in a compelling, memorable way.
If you’re in the thick of writing your essays right now, you don’t want to miss last week’s B-Schooled podcast episode on six common essay-writing mistakes to avoid. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or TuneIn!
When using the STAR method for MBA essay writing, always keep this in mind:
Until next time,
The team at Stacy Blackman Consulting
If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for the SBC newsletter, where you’ll receive our expert advice on all aspects of the MBA application process delivered straight in your inbox each week.