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How to Use the STAR Technique in an Interview

How to Use the STAR Technique in an Interview

You can prepare for behavioral and situational interview questions with the STAR interview method. Situation, task, action, and result are what STAR stands for. Hiring managers use behavioral interview questions to figure out if you are a good fit for a job. Using real-life examples, this method will help you come up with answers that are clear and to the point. STAR Technique in an Interview

In this article, we talk about the STAR strategy, give examples of its parts, and give steps and tips to help you be ready to answer interview questions.

How do you use the STAR method?

The STAR method helps you write a story that is easy to understand and has a clear problem and solution. Here are the meanings of each part of the technique:

Situation

Set the scene for the story by telling what happened or what the challenge was. Most of the time, it’s best to talk about work-related situations. However, if you have a lot of directly transferable experience, you could also talk about academic projects or volunteer work. It’s also important to talk about a specific situation instead of talking about your general duties.

You shouldn’t spend too much time on this part of your answer because interviewers care more about what you did and how it turned out. Share the right amount of relevant details by figuring out the two or three most important things the interviewer needs to know to understand what’s going on.

“In my last job as lead designer, there was a time when my team didn’t have enough people and had a lot of work piling up. The account managers were setting deadlines that were too short, which made my team stressed out and hurt morale.

Task

Explain what you have to do or what your role is in the situation or challenge. In other words, talk about the task or goal you were given. This section takes about the same amount of time as the situation part. Again, think about only one or two things that best show what you needed to do.

“As the team leader, it was my job to make sure my team met deadlines, let other departments know how much time we had, and keep my team motivated.”

Action

Tell exactly what you did to deal with the situation or get past the challenge. This part of your answer needs the most detail because it shows most of what a role needs to know about you. Find and talk about a few of the most important steps you took to get where you are now.

Most problems at work are solved by a team. However, it’s a common mistake to say “we” when talking about how you reached your goals in an interview. No matter what happened, it’s important to think about what you did. It can be helpful to keep in mind that the employer wants to hire you for the role, not your team. This means that you should use the word “I” to emphasize your own contributions.

Example: “I set up a formal creative request process with estimated project timelines to make sure everyone knew what to expect. I set up weekly meetings with account managers to talk about my team’s workload and share updates on how things are going. I also told my team about the new procedures, so they could rest easy knowing that the problems were being fixed.

Result

What happened because of the things you did? This is another important part of your answer that you should pay attention to. You should talk about the results almost as much as you talk about what you did. Figure out what the top two or three results were and talk about them.

If you can, give numbers or specific examples of how your efforts have paid off. Also, talk about what you learned, how you grew, and how the experience made you a better worker.

“We were able to reorder the design team’s to-do list and finish everything on our backlog by making my team’s processes more clear and setting better expectations with the account managers. I used what I learned and kept using this structure. As a result, our average project timeline was cut by two days in the next quarter. I also learned how important it is for teams to talk to each other clearly.”

How to prepare for an interview with the STAR method

Even though you won’t know the questions ahead of time, most behavioral interviews will focus on different work-related challenges that show how well you can think critically and solve problems, as well as situations that show how well you can lead, deal with conflicts, and work under pressure. Here is more information about behavioral questions and some advice on how to use the STAR method to answer them.

STAR interview question examples

Here are some examples of common questions about your behavior that you might be asked in an interview:

  • Tell me about a time when you had a hard problem to solve at work. How did you figure out what to do?
  • Have you ever had to make a choice that not everyone liked? How did you respond?
  • Tell me about a time at work when you were under a lot of stress. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a mistake you’ve made. How did you respond?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a hard choice. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you used facts or reasoning to make a suggestion.
  • Tell me about a time when you and your boss had different ideas. What did you do to fix it?
  • Tell me about a time you had to give bad news. How did you do it?
  • Tell me about a project you worked on with people from other departments.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t do well. What did the experience teach you?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a goal and reached it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to get someone to do something you wanted them to do.
  • Tell me about a time when you and a co-worker got into a fight. How did you respond?
  • Have you ever had to get someone to do something? How did you do it?
  • Tell me about a time when you ran out of time at work and didn’t get everything done.

How to get ready for your STAR interview answer

Here are some steps to help you prepare for a job interview with a STAR interview answer:

  1. Look over the job description and the skills you’ll need, and think about what kinds of problems or problems you might have to solve if you get the job.
  2. You should also look over a list of common behavioral interview questions like the ones above. Even though the way these questions are asked may change from interview to interview, the main point of the question usually stays the same. Keeping this in mind as you prepare your answers can help. For instance, the interviewer may ask about “a time when you were under pressure” or “how you deal with stress.” In either case, their goal is to find out how you handle stress.
  3. Write down the different professional situations you’ve dealt with that show the kind of skills you’ll need to do well in the job and answer some of the most common behavioral interview questions. Use the STAR framework to make each example.
  4. Practice saying your answers out loud to make sure they are as short and logical as possible. This will also help you feel more natural and confident when answering questions in an interview.

If you’re new to the workforce and don’t have a long professional history, use examples from internships, volunteer work, or group projects you did in school. Some employers may ask you to give an example that isn’t related to work, so think about challenges or problems you’ve solved outside of work.

No matter what stories you tell, make sure to describe a situation, a task, an action, and a result, and show the skills and abilities that are most relevant to the job.

Examples of how to use the STAR method

Here are three examples of how to use the STAR method to answer some of the most common behavioral interview questions:

Tell me about a time when you had a hard problem to solve at work. How did you figure out what to do?

  • “During prom season, I was working as a store manager at a department store. A customer bought a dress online and had it sent to the store to be picked up. One of my coworkers put the dress on the floor by accident, and another customer bought it right away.
  • I knew I had to fix this for the customer to meet my own service level standards and to protect the company’s reputation.
  • Before calling the customer to tell her about the mistake, I found the same dress at another store nearby. I had it pressed and sent to her house the morning of prom with a gift card to thank her for being patient.
  • The customer was so grateful that she gave us five stars on a number of review sites.

Tell me about a time at work when you were under a lot of stress. What did you do?

  • “When I worked as an account executive before, one of my coworkers quit right after we got the biggest client our company had ever had.
  • Even though I already had a lot of accounts to take care of, I was given this new client. I knew that a lot was at stake and that if we lost this deal, we wouldn’t reach our quarterly goal.
  • Action: I first did some things to calm down. Then I carefully looked at my list of tasks and reorganized it to make sure I could handle everything. Because of this, I was able to give the client my full attention, and I even gave up some evenings and weekends to answer calls until the project was done.
  • The client was so impressed with my hard work that they signed an annual contract with us right away, which brought in $5 million.

Tell me about a mistake you’ve made. How did you respond?

  • “I was an intern at an events company, and I was in charge of ordering the flowers for a private event hosted by a famous client. Unfortunately, I mixed up the information from another event, so the flowers were sent to the wrong place on the other side of town.
  • I took this very seriously and knew I had to find a solution quickly because we were up against a deadline.
  • After thinking about a few different ways to solve the problem. I told my boss that I had made a mistake. I also told them what my plan was and why I thought it was the best thing to do. I left work early for lunch, drove to the other location, picked up the flowers, and brought them to the right place an hour before the event.
  • The client never found out about my mistake, and my boss was very happy.”

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