In any job interview, it is common for a hiring manager to pose a question beginning with “Describe a time when..” or “Share an example of a situation where…”. These questions can be intimidating to respond to, but the STAR interview technique can help make these questions feel less daunting and more comfortable to answer.
The STAR interview technique is a method you can use to answer behavioral interview questions more clearly and concisely. This technique allows you to provide concrete examples and proof that you possess the experience and skills the hiring manager is seeking for the position. STAR stands for:
Situation – Describing the event or situation you were in
- In this step, you describe the situation you were in when you performed a job or faced a challenge. This sets the background for your interviewer by providing context about the circumstances or obstacles you encountered.
- This step just sets the scene, so just keep it simple with three essential facts and details. Make sure to explain the who, what, when, where, and how.
Task – Explaining the task you had to complete
- This step describes the tasks and responsibilities you were assigned in the situation.
- A minimal amount of time is required for this step so focus on one to two items that best represent your role and emphasize specific challenges you faced.
Action – Describe the specific actions you took to complete the task
- In this step, you describe the precise steps you took to handle a situation or obstacle. It is important to go into detail because this is the most important step in the process. This step highlights your skills in a real-life scenario.
- Make sure to focus on your contributions to completing the task rather than what your team did.
Result – Close with the result of your efforts
- In this step, you explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken. This is the second most important step because a successful outcome validates that the efforts you gave were effective.
- Make sure to emphasize what you accomplished, and learned and how the experience made you more well-rounded. Whenever possible, quantify your results.
To prepare using the STAR interview technique, first, make sure you have a good understanding of behavioral interview questions and familiarize yourself with STAR interview question examples. Examples include:
- Share an experience when you encountered a challenging boss. What did you do to manage the situation?
- Share with me an event when you had to fulfill multiple tasks at once. By what means did you go about prioritizing your time?
- Share with me the last time you were in charge of a long-term project. What did you do to keep your project on schedule and your team motivated?
When preparing, go over the job description, and the required skills, and consider possible problems you could face in this position. This will give you a better idea of potential questions a hiring manager could pose to you during the interview. List instances in your work experience that demonstrate qualities that would help you excel in the position and practice answering typical behavioral interview questions using the STAR technique. Practicing and saying answers out loud will ensure your narrative is straightforward and can make you feel more natural and confident when you have to answer the questions in the actual interview.
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Annika Wanger is a Junior at Butler University studying Marketing, Applied Business Technology, and Data Science. She is currently interning in Singapore for Interviewer.AI during the summer of 2022. Besides work, she is very interested in traveling, reading, and cooking for family and friends as hobbies.