As part of the hiring process, many hiring managers will utilize a behavioral interview technique when conducting job interviews. In response, the interviewers expect answers framed with what’s known as the STAR format. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Learn how to answer these questions and you’ll stand out as an obvious top candidate.

STAR Method Components

  • Situation:

    Describe the situation that you were in or the problem that your employer was facing. Choose a specific instance. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the context. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

  • Task:

    Describe what you were asked to do. What part did you play in resolving the issue? Again, describe a specific example, not just a job duty you routinely performed.

  • Action:

    Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did and your contributions– not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do, tell what you did. Provide good examples.

  • Results:

    What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Provide good examples.

Tips for Using the STAR Method

  • During a behavioral interview, always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely.
  • It is helpful to frame your answer as a story that you can tell.
  • Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: “I was a shift supervisor.” could be “As Shift Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 4 employees.”
  • Use examples from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service, and work experience.
  • Write down your answers to the questions using the STAR method prior to the interview so that you have your thoughts organized.

Sample Questions

  • Driving for results: Tell us about a time when there was an obstacle preventing you from successfully completing a project ….How did you get around the obstacle to obtain success?
  • Innovative Solutions: Our company is always looking for innovative people who can achieve solutions. Tell us about a time that required a unique solution and how you achieved it.
  • Customer Focus: Give us an example of how you took negative customer feedback and were able achieve a positive result.
  • Coaching: Time to time we all work with peers who are not performing or doing a good job. How have you handled that in the past?
  • Building trust internally: Tell us about a time where you have worked with an individual who had different opinions from your own and how you handled that.
  • Job satisfaction: Describe an occasion when you had either many or not many opportunities for creativity in your work. How satisfied did that make you? Why? What was the job that made you the most satisfied or dissatisfied in your work? What made it most satisfying or dissatisfying?
  • Pride In One’s Work: In your job at xxxx, what was your definition of a job well done? Do you feel you did a good job? How could you tell? Provide an example. What were the standards for success in your position at xxxx? How did you meet the requirements? Do you have a recent example you can describe? Provide an example of a situation where you knew that a process was being done poorly. What did you do to correct it? How did that turn out?
  • Making Decisions: Describe an instance when you had to analyze and interpret financial or numerical data. Describe a recent problem you discovered in your job at xxxx. What information did you use to identify the problem? Tell me about a complicated problem you encountered at work. What did you do to get a better understanding of the problem?
  • Teamwork: Provide a situation where brainstorming produced differing or conflicting ideas with others. How did the goal get accomplished? Describe a time when you worked with a coworker to come up with roles and responsibilities. Have you ever helped someone come up with an idea? Give an example.
  • Self Awareness: Tell me what areas you excel technically? What technical areas are your weaknesses that you need to improve?