Do you find it difficult to come up with good answers during your interview section? Struggling to articulate your skills and experiences effectively? You’re not alone. Many job seekers face challenges crafting compelling answers to behavioral and situational interview questions. But fear not! The STAR technique is your secret weapon for delivering clear, concise, and impactful responses that resonate with interviewers. This strategy is perfect for answering behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions.
What is the STAR interview response method?
The STAR interview response method is sometimes called the ‘CAR’ method, representing Challenge / Context, Action, and Result. It is also related to the ‘PAR’ method, which represents the problem, action, and result.
The STAR interview response technique is a method that is effective in preparing for certain interview questions. It is useful for answering behavioral interview questions. STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and result. With this technique, you will be able to prepare and give clear and straight to the point answers to questions.
This will help your hiring manager to determine whether you are a good fit for the job and whether you can handle specific situations that come with the job.
What are behavioral interview questions?
The behavioral interview is a type of interview conducted to know your behavior in your previous work. It is used by hiring managers to determine whether you are a good fit for a job.
You could meet a similar situation you handled in your previous job in your new job and employers are of the opinion that there are high chances that you would respond to such situations exactly the way you did in your past job, hence, the need to ask these questions to know your personality and capabilities.
Examples of behavioral interview questions:
- Give me an example of how you manage your time when you work on different projects?
- Did you ever disagree with your boss? How did you resolve the issue?
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with several tight deadlines.
- Describe a time when you were part of a team project that failed.
- Describe a time when you took a specific action to resolve a problem.
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer.
- Tell me about a time you managed an important project.
STAR Interview Technique to Successfully Clarify Work Situations
It’s important that you prepare answer examples from your work experience as well to help you substantiate your answers. Examples of times, you successfully used the required skills for the job help you give your answers more weight.
By using the STAR method, you can give the interviewer an answer that includes exactly what he or she is looking for. Also, it allows you to convey a concise answer that includes the skills that make you the right candidate to hire. Below, you find a breakdown of the STAR acronym in steps.
Start your story by explaining the situation that you faced. The start of your answer ‘story’ should answer questions such as:
- What was the situation?
- Who was involved?
- Why did the situation happen at that time?
It’s important to provide context around the situation or challenge. Furthermore, make sure to provide relevant details.
Next, explain your specific role in the task ahead. Include important details, such as specific responsibilities. Focus on giving the interviewer an understanding of your task. This part of your answer should answer questions such as:
- Why were you involved in that specific situation?
- What’s the background story?
After you describe your task, it’s time to specifically discuss the actions you took to resolve the situation. Give the interviewer a step by step description of the actions you took. This part of your answer should answer questions such as:
- What steps did you take to resolve the situation you were in?
- Why did you choose to complete your tasks this way?
Finish your answer by discussing the results you got from your actions. Detail the outcomes of your actions and ensure to highlight your strengths. Also, make sure to take credit for your behavior that led to the result. Focus on positive results and positive learning experiences. This part of your answer ‘story’ should answer questions such as:
- What exactly happened?
- What did you accomplish?
- How did you feel about the results you got?
- What did you learn from the situation?
- How did this particular situation influence who you are as a professional today?
How to use the STAR response technique in answering questions
With the STAR interview technique, you create an easily comprehensible story starting with a challenge, through the actions you took and then ending with its resolution. Here is how it works:
Usually, interviewers structure their question around this STAR acronym. They could ask you questions that start with,
“Describe a situation when you…”,
“Tell me about an occasion when you…”
“Have you ever….”
“What do you do when….”
With questions like this, you are expected to stage a story, not just any story, but one that centers on such incidents and is within the same context. Share any story that is relevant to the question and points to a similar challenge. It doesn’t matter where you encountered the challenge. It could be while working as an executive in your school organization or while working as a volunteer. There are two steps to this part:
- First, finding a suitable example and,
- Secondly, laying it out
Look back on your professional history and select an appropriate scenario. It will be wise for you to brainstorm even before the interview and get some stories and examples ready so that when the questions eventually come, you will not be taken by surprise. Even during the interview, you don t have to start talking immediately. You can take a minute to think. However, you shouldn’t delay much.
Now with your selected scenario, it is time to tell the story. Job applicants sometimes make the mistake of either adding the irrelevant or skipping out on the important details. Remember that your goal here is to paint a distinct and sharp picture of the situation you were in so that at the latter part of the story, you can tell how you dealt with the complexities that arose with the situation. Thus, you should keep your story focused and as brief as possible.
Next, you have to describe your responsibility or the role you are meant to play in that situation. You must have had a core involvement in the story. Now, this is not the same as the action part; it is just you stating your specific responsibility.
For instance, if you worked in the capacity of the email marketing manager and your responsibility involves ensuring an increment in the mailing list, you could say, “I was the email marketing manager, and my core role is to increase our email list. My target was to increase it by at least 60% in a quarter.”
Now that you have stated the task and your responsibility, it is time to share details on the actions you took. You have to talk about the steps or the procedures you took to resolve the situation. No, it is not a time to give vague responses such as “I worked hard and was committed.” It is time to be specific.
Talk about your contribution. Did you work individually or as a team? Was there a specific tool you used? Did you go out of your way to sort things out? Did you use a method or technique that has never been used in the company before? Those are the sort of things your interviewers would be interested to hear.
Also, at this point, you need to focus on what your team leader, colleagues, or team did. The focus should be on you and on the actions you took. Therefore, instead of using “We,” it is wise you use “I.”
What was the outcome of your actions? Is it quantifiable? What were its effects? At this point, it is necessary to highlight your accomplishments and the lessons you learned from the whole event.
Whatever you have to say, there should be a positive one; otherwise, you shouldn’t be telling the story in the first place.
You should also know that your result, just like your action, is a very important part of your response. Do not make the mistake of missing over this crucial part. Make sure you narrate the positive impact of your action. If it is quantifiable, then make sure you add the numbers as well. It is also important.
How do you prepare for an interview using the star method?
You might not be able to predict the exact questions that would come to you, but mostly behavioral questions tend to focus on challenges you must have experienced at work that require critical and analytical thinking and need to be resolved.
To help you tackle this question while preparing for your interview, you should make a review of the job details and job description. Check out the skills required and think of different challenges you could face while in that position, and then write down the situations you have handled in the past that would highlight the relevant skills and your key strengths.
For fresh college graduates or someone new to the labor market, you might not have enough professional experience. In this case, you can check out scenarios of what happened during your volunteer, internship, or even college days. You might even be required to talk about a scenario that has to do with your personal life and not work-related. Whichever is the case, you should be ready to share and display your skills and capabilities using a relevant story.
STAR Interview Technique Tips
The STAR interview technique can seem overwhelming, especially if you are not conversant with it, but there are things you can do to help you figure it all out and prepare for your interview:
- It is an acronym, and you need to memorize it and know what each stands for. Remember, your answer may not make sense if you don’t take your answer in the particular order that it is meant to take.
- After memorizing, you still need to practice on it. Take out some time before the interview to practice the STAR questions and answers until you get the formula right and perfect your answers.
- You should then get yourself prepared for the interview. Put it all together. Do not panic and get your confidence level high.
With these preparations and procedures set in place, the pressure of answering behavioral questions would be less, and you would get more chances to highlight your skills.
Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic