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Your Exclusive Guide to the STAR Interview Response Method

Isbella Ribar

Mon, 18 Oct, 2021


Isbella Ribar

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 5 minutes

Do you have a hard time giving concise answers in interviews? Do you find it difficult to share your achievements during an interview without sounding like you’re bragging? How can you let the interviewer know that you are the best fit for the job?

An interview response method known as STAR can help. This method of answering interview questions helps you demonstrate that you’re a candidate with the right experience and skills for the job at hand with examples. You will be able to share ways you handled certain situations at work successfully.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This method is especially useful when answering competency-based questions, such as, “Describe a time when…” or “Explain a situation in which…”.

Below is a detailed description of the STAR interview response technique, along with simple examples of how to use it.

STAR Key Concepts

Four concepts make up the acronym STAR. Each concept represents a step the applicant can use to answer a behavioral interview question. In this way, the candidate provides a comprehensive response. It consists of the following concepts:

(Prepare)

Take a moment to think about an event and then answer the question/s before you do anything.

Situation: Describe the circumstances within which you had a task to complete or a challenge to overcome while working. You may have been in the middle of a group project or had a conflict with a colleague. An example of a relevant situation can come from either a work experience or a volunteer position. Provide as much detail as you can.

Task: The next step is to describe your responsibilities. The challenge may have been completing a project in time, resolving a conflict, or reaching a sales goal. 

Action: You then describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. You should concentrate on what you accomplished rather than on what your co-workers, boss, or team did. (Tip: Rather than saying, “we did xyx,” say “I did xyz.”) 

Result: In conclusion, describe the outcome or results of the action taken. To make a stronger case, emphasize on what you accomplished or what you learned.

What Is the STAR Interview Response Method?

As a way to help you answer behavioral interview questions, the STAR interview response method has been developed. Behavioral interview questions are exactly that, they ask you about how you may have behaved in past situations and more specifically, how you handled yourself. This technique is used by employers to analyze jobs and identify the skills and qualities high-level performers demonstrate in that role.

Note: Interviewers ask these questions to assess whether a candidate has the experience and skills necessary to excel at the job. Past performance can offer good insight into your future work performance.

An employer might be searching for these skills, among others: problem-solving abilities, analytical skills, creativity, persistence through failure, writing skills, presentation skills, teamwork orientation, persuasive skills, quantitative skills, or accuracy.

Examples of behavioral interview questions could include the following:

  • Describe an instance when deadlines were tight and you had to complete a task.
  • When have you ever gone above and beyond what was expected of you?
  • In the event of a team member refusing to finish their quota of work, what should you do?

Not all interviewers use the STAR method to ask their questions, however it is the perfect way for you to prepare when responding to questions as it gives you a simple structure to follow.

How to Prepare for an Interview Using STAR

Because you won’t be able to predict what interview technique your interviewer will use, make sure to prepare multiple scenarios from previous jobs you’ve held.

List all the requirements of the job

Start by listing the skills and/or experiences the position requires. If you can identify the required and preferred skills and qualifications, you may be able to align your skills and qualifications with those listed in the job posting.

Prepare an example list

Then, think of examples of when you showed those skills. Identify the situation, task, action, and result of each example.

Match Your Skills to the Job

Choose examples that are as relevant to the position you are interviewing for – or as close as possible.

Take a look at common behavioural interview questions, and use the STAR technique to answer each. A simple google search will bring some up.

Samples of Interview Questions & Answers Using STAR

Sample Question 1

“Please tell me about a time when you had to complete a task within a short time frame. Give details about what happened, and explain what you did.”

Sample Answer 1

“Even though I prefer to work in stages and complete projects piece by piece, I can still achieve good results under tight deadlines. During my time working at a former company, an employee quit days before a project’s due date. The project was handed to me with only a few days to learn about it and complete it. With a day to spare, we all completed the assignment by forming a task force and delegating work. I believe my best work is done under pressure.”

Sample Question 2

“How do you handle the situation when a team member refuses to complete his or her portion of the work?”

Sample Answer 2

“In the event of team issues or conflicts, I always aim to step up and serve as team leader. I consider myself an effective leader and moderator because of my communication skills. In the course of working on a team project, two of the team members got embroiled in an argument, each refusing to finish their assignments. Since they were both unhappy with their workloads, I organised a meeting where all the assignments were shared among the team members. As a result, everyone was happier and more productive, and our project was completed successfully and on time.”

Sample Question 3

“Tell me about a time you showed initiative and went above and beyond on the job.”

Sample Answer 3

“I worked as a coordinator last year at an advertising agency supporting a senior account executive for a major client. Three weeks before the campaign pitch, the Account Executive had an accident. I volunteered to take over and coordinate input from the creative and media teams. A meeting was called and I facilitated a discussion of the ad scenario, media plans, and roles of the team members. Using our collective knowledge and insight on ad concepts and media strategies, we were able to determine two priority ad concepts. I drafted a minute-by-minute schedule of how we would present our proposal, which the team appreciated based on our discussions. The clients were thrilled and our plan was quickly approved by the client. As a result, I was promoted to Account Executive six months later.”

There is no shortcut when it comes to interview prep. If you want to be at your best and feel confident, you need to do your homework and reflect on your past experience and how it relates to the job you are being interviewed for. Using the STAR Interview Response Method will not only make sure you feel prepared but it will help calm your nerves and give you the opportunity to showcase all your skills/experiences and give you what you need to shine on the day.

Good Luck!

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