Skip to main content

Understanding the STAR Interview Method

Joshua earned an MBA from USF and he writes mostly about software and technology.

What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?

Behavioral-type interview questions test you on how you have reacted in past situations in the workplace. I've listed several behavioral-type questions here below.

  • Tell me about a time when you faced a problem while on the job. What measures did you take to come to a solution?
  • Have you moved forward with an unpopular decision that you had to move forward with? How did you handle this situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you were under an immense amount of pressure at work. What was your reaction?
  • Tell me about a mistake you’ve made at work. How did you handle it?

These are the type of questions that you will hear at your STAR interview. If you know your answers are expected to be received in the STAR method, you are going to want to prepare yourself ahead of time.

The STAR method is used while giving responses at an interview by identifying a situation, the task at hand, the action taken, and the results.

The STAR method is used while giving responses at an interview by identifying a situation, the task at hand, the action taken, and the results.

The STAR Method

The STAR interview method is a way to answer behavioral-type questions like the ones that are listed above. the questions are answered with a step-by-step process. STAR is an acronym for the methodical process seen in the list below:

  • SITUATION
  • TASK
  • ACTION
  • RESULT

Answering behavioral-type questions in this order will give the interviewer a sense that you have given a complete response without any holes. Even if you leave out important details that your interviewer questions, this method gives the interview enough perspective for a well-rounded answer. Each section of this method can be seen in details below.

Situation

The situation is the first step to answering a question in this process and is essentially setting the scene for your interviewer. It describes the situation that surrounded a task that needed to be accomplished. It's important to understand that the situation should not be generalized. You need to set the interviewer up with clear subject matter that will catch and hold their attention throughout the interview.

When practicing the situation focus should be on details. Examples of responses can be situations from previous jobs, volunteer experience, or self-employment.

Task

The task is explaining the task that you had to complete. More specifically, you are describing the goal that you were working toward. Remember while you are talking through the task that you will soon need to show how you reacted soon. Don't get lost in the details of the task, and be as clear as possible. The interviewer can ask more questions about the task later.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

It's important to draw a clear line of progression from the situation, through the task, and right into the action.

Action

Here you will explain the specific action that you took to address the task based on the situation. In this area, all of the attention should be focused on you with a focus on the required remedy. Of course, you may have had a team work with you on a project, but you would still only speak of your contributions or steps taken to address the situation to avoid ambiguity.

A good tip in this area of the response would be to only use the words "I" and "my" when speaking, even though you completed something as a team.

Result

The result is your closing statement. A detailed result of your efforts should be given to the interviewer. Remember that the focus is on you, and don't be shy about taking credit for the result. The interview is looking looking for details like the following:

  • What did you accomplish?
  • What happened?
  • How did the event end?
  • What did you learn?

One important aspect of your response in this area is to make sure that you choose a compelling story that has a positive ending.

Preparing for Behavioral Questions

It's difficult to know which type of behavioral questions will be asked. Practicing behavioral questions can help, but going through your work history and identifying tasks that align with the role that you are applying for can be very beneficial.

Most behavioral-type questions will more than like come from one of five categories.

  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving/Planning
  • Initiative/Leadership
  • Interpersonal Skills/Conflict
  • Pressure/Stress

If your interview is close, get started by making a list of stories that relate to the new role and be sure to keep in mind the above topics.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Joshua Crowder

Related Articles