Using the Star Method To Answer Interview Questions

Using the Star Method To Answer Interview Questions

Going in for a job interview is scary, to say the least. Even if you already have a job, there's a lot on the line. Whether the position is your dream job or just a way to escape the daily grind, you probably feel the pressure of the interview. But you can put your nerves at ease by preparing for the interview by understanding the STAR method. Here's some insight into the technique and how you can be ready for your next interview.

What is STAR?

STAR is an acronym for the way in which you should answer interview questions. First, you should describe the situation. Then, you can go into detail about the specific task. After that, discuss the action or actions you took to proceed. Finally, there's the end result.

So, STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. When you answer interview questions, you should use this format. It's a great way to convey exactly what the interviewer wants to hear.


When describing the situation, talk about the context. For instance, you might have been working as a customer service representative and dealing with an angry customer. The situation could be work-related, but it doesn't need to be. If there is no relevant work situation, you can use a volunteer position or college project. Whatever situation you discuss, be sure to use specifics.


Once you establish the situation, you need to talk about your task. This means discussing your own responsibilities. Given the example above of a customer service representative, you might explain how it was your responsibility to address the customer's concerns. If there is any industry terminology you can use to showcase your knowledge, incorporate those terms into your answer.


One of the most important parts of your answer is the discussion of your solution. Once you have a problem or a mission, how do you proceed? Go into detail about the way you approached the situation. While you talk about your actions, speak in the first person. The interviewer doesn't care as much about what your coworker or boss did; they want to hear about your actions.


For you to demonstrate your ability, you need to show the interviewer that you got the desired results. If possible, use statistics or metrics to show your result. Of course, you may not have been successful. In this case, talk about what you learned.

Why Should You Use the STAR Method?

No matter who is interviewing you, there's a good chance the interviewer will ask you a behavioral or competency question. Answering these questions is never simple. Typically, the interviewer asks about situations that could have a lengthy backstory and are difficult to explain.

Fortunately, the STAR Method sets you up for success. The next time someone asks you to share an example of a time you overcame an obstacle, you'll be ready. With this method, you can summarize the situation without giving an hour-long monologue.

Oftentimes, these types of questions have a lot of weight. If you can't answer them properly, the interviewer may not move forward with the hiring process. The STAR method could increase your chances of success.

An Example of STAR

It's one thing to talk about STAR and another to actually execute it. Here is a common interview question with an answer written using this technique.

Talk about a time you had a lot of pressure at work.

When I worked as a sales person, I had our biggest client come to me with a complaint about our last order. My boss asked me to address their concern and convince them to remain with us. If I failed, we would lose our most important client.

After reaching out to the customer, I had a lengthy discussion about their concerns. They were worried that we couldn't handle their large orders. So, I told them that I would personally manage everything for them. Once I explained how much time I would put into managing their order, the client was content. They agreed to continue to work with us. In fact, the client increased their order quantity. It was a great experience because I quickly learned how to cope with the pressure and address client concerns.

Prepping for Your Interview with STAR

Although you can use STAR to answer questions on the spot, you are better off preparing for common interview questions in advance. Take a look at the job listing and think about what the interviewer is looking for. Read the job requirements and consider how your own experience fits into those requirements. Then, make a list of all of your skills and experiences that make you the best candidate for the job.

After you have your list, consider how you can use STAR to discuss the skills or experiences. Start with the situation and work your way through to the results. Once you have an answer for every skill and experience, you can read them aloud.

As you read your answers, be critical. Do you sound too forced? Are your answers specific enough? After you critique yourself, make edits to the answers. Then, practice them once again. If you have friends or family members nearby, ask them to listen to your answers. Take notes and make any adjustments you need.

Bring Notes

You don't need to memorize your answers. Although memorizing your responses may be helpful, you also can rely on a notepad to jog your memory. For every interview, you should show up with a notepad and a pen.

When you refer to your notes, don't be too obvious about your actions. Don't stare at the paper or act like you're reading from a script. Be natural and maintain eye contact as much as possible.

Taking the Stress Away

One of the reasons that this technique is so effective is the fact that it gives you a confidence boost. When an interviewer asks you to talk about a difficult situation, you'll have all the tools you need to respond in a professional manner. You can go into your interview with confidence, and this could land you the job.

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