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What is the STAR interview response technique?

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The STAR method is used in behavioral job interviews where you are required to briefly tell a story of how you were able to handle challenges successfully in the past.  Some examples of behavioral questions are as follows:

  • Describe a time when you used excellent leadership skills to resolve a problem.
  • Talk about a time when you used initiative to resolve a conflict.
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your work duties.

By asking behavioral questions, employers can determine if a candidate is a right fit for a job or not as the applicant is required to give real-life examples of past experiences and achievements.  

Essential Interview Tips

To help you prepare for these kinds of behavioral questions, here are some tips to help you leverage the STAR method in your favor for your next interview.

  •  Try to keep your answer to each question to no more than about 2 minutes each.
  • Your answer doesn’t have to be work-related, as long as it describes a relevant skill or behavior.
  • When giving an answer, talk about situations that show your behavior or actions in the most favorable light.
  • Make sure that the story you tell has a beginning, middle, and an end.
  • Be honest, and don’t embellish your answer.
  • Give a detailed response to the question and don’t just generalize.
  • Don’t only give explanations or examples from one area of your life. i.e., try to vary your answers as much as possible

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Possible Interview Questions

The most important thing to keep in mind is to relate your answers back to the trait that the interviewer is asking about. Let’s take a look at some sample answers:

Question: Describe a time when you used excellent leadership skills to resolve a problem.

Answer: I helped a friend get hired at a job where I was the assistant manager. However, two weeks into the job, I realized her skills weren’t quite up to par. To help her improve, I asked her to submit her work to me for feedback before handing it into the upper management. By doing that, I was able to give her useful information about her performance, and in no time at all, she made tremendous improvements.

Question: Talk about a time when you used initiative to resolve a conflict.

Answer: I could see that two of the players on the basketball team that I coach were not getting along, and it was starting to affect our game. I called both of them into my office and asked each of them to talk about what was on their mind while the other person could only listen and respond after they were finished speaking. By the end of our meeting, I got both of them to shake hands and makeup. Later in the season, we went on to win the championship in our league.

Question: Tell me about a time you went above and beyond your work duties.

Answer: I was working as a software developer on an open-source application for a client when I found a bug in the software that no one on my team could figure out. After working on it for a week, my team was about to give up on the project which would have cost us our contract, but at the last minute, I asked my team to give me one more day to figure it out. I was up for the whole night, but in the end, I was able to write some code to fix the problem.  And because of that, we were able to save the contract for our firm.

Use the STAR Method and Get Results

As you can see, the STAR interview response technique is an effective way to tackle difficult, behavioral interview questions. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to paint a clear picture of yourself and your abilities.

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