Preparing for a job interview can be nerve-wracking, especially when you know the interviewer will ask behavioral interview questions. Many hiring managers now use this type of question as it helps them assess how you handle situations, judge your problem-solving skills, and identify certain aspects of your personality that cannot be assessed via a standard interview. In this blog, we will focus on the STAR method, which is a structured approach to answering behavioral interview questions.
What is the STAR method?
The STAR method is a way to answer behavioral interview questions by providing structured responses that demonstrate your competencies and skills. Each letter in the acronym represents one section of your response to a question. Specifically, the STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. With this method, you are encouraged to provide concrete examples of how you handled a situation, including the task you performed, the action you took, and the outcome of that action.
How does the STAR method work?
The STAR method is structured to help you present the details of a situation in a clear and concise manner that demonstrates your skills. As we saw earlier, each letter represents a specific section. Let's look at each of these in more detail:
Situation: Begin by setting the scene for the interviewer, and give them the context of the situation you will be discussing. Make sure to focus on one specific example, and include enough information to give the interviewer a clear understanding of the scenario.
Task: In this section, explain what task you were assigned and how it fit into the situation.
Action: Describe what actions you took to address the task and solve the problem. Go into detail about the specific actions you took to accomplish your task.
Result: What was the final outcome of your actions, and how did the situation turn out?
Why is the STAR method so effective in interviews?
The STAR method showcases your abilities and skills more effectively than a generic answer to a more general interview question. Whether you are being asked about customer service, teamwork, or conflict resolution, the STAR method ensures that your response is focused, relevant, and detailed. It enables the interviewer to see how you approach problems, the strategies you use, your decision-making skills, and the trajectory of your progress.
Examples of STAR Answers
Let's consider an example of a question and a corresponding STAR answer. The interviewer could ask, “Tell me about a time you faced a difficult situation on the job.” Here's a STAR answer that would be effective:
Situation: “I encountered a problem where a client had made a large purchase and subsequently decided to request a full refund for technical problems she experienced. I had to determine the causes of the technical difficulties and act on them.”
Task: “As part of the resolution, I had to ensure that I dealt with the customer effectively and professionally, whilst also investigating the issues raised, resolving them, and then coordinating a refund.”
Action: “I took the lead in determining the underlying cause of the technical issues then promptly liaised with the relevant departments to fix the issue. I then contacted the customer to explain what we had found and what solutions we had in place. After we resolved the technical problems, I worked with the departments to process the refund efficiently.”
Result: “The customer was satisfied with the outcome, sales were not lost, and the technical issues were addressed.”
Tips for Employing the STAR method in Interviews
Be specific and detailed. The more detail and clarity you provide, the stronger your response will be.
Be honest. Don't embellish your responses with wild claims. Instead, be honest and stick to the facts; this will be better received by the employer.
Be prepared. Practice your answers and think ahead of the interview about what scenarios or situations you have encountered and that you can use as examples.
Don't talk too much when responding. Make sure you don't give long, anecdotal responses that stray away from the point. Be concise and stick to addressing the question.
The STAR method is an effective way of answering behavioral interview questions. By outlining a specific situation, task, actions, and result, it gives employers a clear and concise view of your abilities. During a job interview, remember to practice your answers, always be honest, clear, and structured when responding. Interviewers will be impressed with your preparedness and your effort into showcasing your skills.