Mastering the STAR Interview Method - How to be prepared
The STAR interview method is a style of response when answering common interview questions. In recent years, interviewers have relied on the STAR method to assess candidates and add structure to their conversations. This article explains what the STAR method is and how you can prepare for the next time you encounter it.
What is the STAR interview method?
The STAR method is an interview response technique that allows you to take control of a job interview (especially a behavioral-style interview) by assessing a prospective employer’s requirements and preparing answers to likely questions ahead of time. STAR is an acronym that refers to Situation, Task, Action and Result.
What is a behavioral interview?
In a behavioral or competency-based interview, the interviewer has a particular set of needs or goals in mind and wants to know how you will fulfill them.
Common behavioral interview questions include:
- "What method do you use for setting your team's goals?"
- "Tell us about someone you have mentored outside of your direct reports."
- "How did you handle managing two employees who disliked one another?"
The STAR technique allows you to explain and illustrate how you will meet the needs of your future employer by pulling examples of how you’ve dealt with similar challenges throughout your career.
What does STAR stand for?
The situation is the challenge, project or other event you faced. When you’re preparing for potential interview questions, think about situations that might be relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. The worst thing you can do is spend 10 minutes talking about something that has nothing to do with the job you're interviewing for.
The task is what your responsibilities and duties were in that situation. Be concise, but be sure to offer to go into deeper detail on any of the points you raise. You need to cover a lot of ground; however, you do not want the interviewer to think you are too far out of the weeds.
The action is the steps you took to achieve the goal or resolve the challenge. Paint a picture for them so they can have a clear understanding of how you solved the issue. The worst thing you can do is assume that they know what you know.
The result portion of the STAR method is where you demonstrate your achievements. Talk about the bottom-line, the cost savings, or another growth metric that resulted specifically from the actions you took. This is the most important part of your answer, and what they are most likely to remember when delivering feedback.
Preparing for your interview with the STAR method
Well before your interview, study the requirements of the role and the unique situation that the company is in. Once you have a good understanding you’ll be able to apply the STAR method and craft well thought out and relevant answers. You do not need to anticipate every question the interviewer might ask, but you should have a general idea of what tone you want to set. By thinking ahead and coming up with STAR responses that match the structure we described above, you will increase your chances of getting the job.
Find yourself getting rejected after you thought the interview went well? Make sure you’re asking the right questions before your meeting ends.
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George is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Suite. He founded The Suite in order to fundamentally change the way executives manage their careers. Prior to founding The Suite in 2019, George spent several years in the executive recruiting space where he was fortunate enough to advise some of the world's leading VC & PE backed businesses on talent.