Use the STAR Method to Ace Interviews & Behavioral Interview Questions

Understand what the Star method is and learn how to use the STAR technique to ace behavioral interview questions and nail job interviews!

A job interview provides applicants an opportunity to sell themselves to employers. It’s the best time to sell yourself to a future boss. 

An applicant should be able to highlight all of his relevant experiences during a job interview. However, some people may not be that skilled in handling face-to-face interviews. 

This is where the STAR interview method comes in. It’s an effective technique for winning an employer and your dream job. 

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How the Star Method for Interviews Works

The Star Method is a way of responding to behavioral questions thrown by your interviewer. These types of questions are situational. An employer may ask about how you dealt with a certain problem at work or a fight with a co-worker. Specifically, it’s about how you handle a given situation — and most likely a challenging and an unpleasant one. 

Employers ask behavioral questions to separate the winners from the mediocre applicants. They may also look for certain types of skills such as problem-solving, persuasive skills (especially for sales jobs), interpersonal skills, or analytical abilities. 

Some examples of behavioral questions:

How do you deal with a co-worker who refuses to complete a task given to him/her?

What do you do when an irate client requests something that is completely out of your scope?

Tell me about a situation where you had struggled to complete a task but managed to accomplish them. What were the actions you took? 

When these open-ended questions are asked, it’s essential that you are as detailed as possible. Use the STAR key concepts for this. 

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Each concept is the one of the steps you need to take in handling behavioral interview questions:

Situation – Describe a situation where you had to do an extremely challenging task. This could be from your previous work experience and any relevant situation. Make sure that are very specific when talking about the scenario. 

Task – Next is you need to describe what you had to do in that situation. Perhaps you could talk about that time you were asked to write about a topic you have little to no knowledge about or that time you had to reach a somehow impossible quota with no hot leads in your bucket. 

Action – This is when you describe how you accomplish the task with flying colors. In this step, focus only on what you did. If you wrote about a topic you absolutely had no knowledge about, talk about the number of grueling hours you spent reading about that certain topic. Talk about how you persevered just so you could complete the task at hand. 

Result – This step explains the results of your actions. Were you rewarded because you got a difficult task done? The last step should highlight what you have accomplished. 

Related Read: 10+ Job Search Tips & Tricks to Up Your Chances of Landing an Interview

Star Interview Method Best Practices

If you want to ace an interview, it’s important that you do enough research not just about the company but about the position you are applying for. 

Where did you see the job posting? The employer may have included all the job responsibilities the successful applicants need to do. In this case, read the job descriptions intently and think about certain possible scenarios that an employer will think about asking. Write these down including the answers to the interview questions. This is when you can start practicing your STAR method technique. Keep in mind to always be very specific when describing tasks, challenges and results. 

Below are some practical tips you can use for nailing that interview and winning a dream job. 

1. Think of a Suitable Scenario or Example

Finding an appropriate scenario would be the first step in a STAR method technique. Since there is no way for you to find out what the interviewer will ask, this is when all your research will pay off. Make sure that you check out job listing sites and common behavioral questions that are related to your industry.

If you really cannot think of a situation right away, it’s always okay to tell the interviewer that you need a minute to think about the questions so you can provide even accurate scenarios and answers. 

2. Focus Only on the Situation 

As much as possible, do not include unnecessary details. For example, if you were asked to do a challenging task, there is no need to mention why you think the task was given to you. Focus entirely on that situation and how you have managed to overcome it. 

With the STAR method, your goal is to paint a vivid picture of the situation in the interviewer’s mind. This means you need to include ALL the relevant details. Emphasize the complexities of the task and what you did to finally accomplish it. 

Related Read: 25 Best Interview Tips: Expert Advice for Acing Interviews & Landing Jobs

3. Tell a Story Where You Succeeded

Keep in mind that the purpose of the interview is to prove that you are capable and you highly qualify for the job position. You can do this only by narrating a success story. Do not talk about how you failed in a certain situation. Avoid drama at all costs. The story has to have a positive outcome. Also, always be honest. It’s always better not to come up with lies just to ace an interview. 

4. Be Specific

During the interview, you need to highlight a scenario that the hiring manager is interested in. This will be a scenario that will be relevant to the position you are applying for. So be as specific as possible. Provide as many relevant details as you can. 

Before the interview, make sure that you already know the qualities and skills needed for the job. This will help you highlight these certain abilities, similar to the way you add skills on your resume. And when you do, make sure it is in a suitable situation. 

5. Be Quantitative

Are you applying for a sales job? Managers adore numbers. They want tangible and solid results. If you have managed to excel in your quota, mention to them your required quota and how much you have achieved. Do make sure that you back up your stories with facts. 

Related Read: 15 Video Interview Tips: Top Tips to Mind for Remote Job Interviews

Using the STAR Method When Preparing for Behavioral Interview Questions

Being prepared can help you get the job. Do these steps to help you better prepare for behavioral interviews. 

Study the Job Description

If you are serious about winning that dream job, you need to do a lot of research on it. First, read and understand the job description. Make sure you know what it entails. If possible, google the job position and read different versions of the job descriptions so you are extremely familiar with it. 

There are several job sites that can provide you with a lot of information about a certain job position. Make sure you utilize these tools and use them to your advantage. They may even have common behavioral questions you can check out. 

Make a List of Your Professional Achievements

Relevant accomplishments can help you win a dream job. Before your scheduled interview, ensure that you have memorized all of your accomplishments especially when you have not updated your resume yet. 

Always highlight these achievements during the interview or when the situation calls for it. Hiring managers love applicants who have what it takes to succeed. 

Related Read: How to Get a Job Without Experience

Practice, Practice, Practice

You can either do this yourself or with a partner you trust. As soon as you have listed all the common questions and answers, have someone actually ask you these questions. Be serious when practicing then ask for feedback after. Perhaps they could ask them to take note of your tone when speaking or your facial expressions. Make sure that you are articulate and very clear with your responses. 

Avoid Giving Out Long Responses

For behavior questions, there is no need to talk for more than 5 minutes about a situation you have overcome. The average time is just about two minutes. You should be able to clearly and specifically talk about all the relevant details in under two minutes. 

Related Read: How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation: 10+ Tips, Advice & Examples

Practice Out Loud

Sometimes you will sound different when you think about giving out the answers than when you actually talk about them out loud. If you are serious about getting this job, practice your responses out loud. Be aware of how you speak, the tone of your voice and if you sound professional.

Hiring managers also look for applicants who are confident about speaking in front of an interviewer. Do not sound timid as that will only give an impression that you are not very confident about what you do. This can be hard in group settings, but check out these group interview tips to help you out on that front!

Review All Projects You’ve Worked On in the Past

Before the interview, make a list of relevant projects that you have started and finished in the past. You can talk about these as well – this would highlight all your relevant accomplishments. 

With the STAR Technique, You Can Ace That Interview!

Like everything, you only need to prepare for the STAR Method Interview and you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

Good luck with that job interview and make sure you check out the rest of our career resources on our site for more inspiration. 

Related Read: How to Learn Anything Fast With the Feynman Technique

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Goodwall Team
Written By Goodwall Team
This article was written by the Goodwall team or by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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