STAR Interview Method: Definition, Tips, and Examples

STAR method tips
Created by CakeResume

The STAR method, which stands for situation, task, action, and result, is the secret to acing your next job interview and landing the dream career. Think about the STAR technique as a way to provide a clear and concise response by using real-life examples.

Hiring managers tend to ask behavioral interview questions, which can be easily answered with the STAR method, to assess your skills and competencies, for example: 

  • Tell me about a situation when...
  • Share an example of a time...
  • Have you ever...
  • Describe a challenge/problem that you have encountered when….
  • Explain a situation where you…

By applying the STAR method in the right way, you can nail your job interview and land the dream job. 

What Is the STAR Method?

The STAR method is a way to structure answers that can be used to answer most behavioral interview questions by describing a specific situation, task, action, and result of a given situation. 

The STAR method is becoming increasingly popular as it helps interviewees arrange their ideas and answer interview questions, either behavioral or situational questions. 

The concept of the STAR interview method can be explained as follows: 

  • SITUATION - the context of an event, problem, or challenge faced at work 

    Instead of providing a generalized description, you need to be as specific as possible so the interviewer can understand the whole story.
  • TASK -  the job responsibilities, duties, and assignments at work
    
    Hiring managers normally ask something related to your job role, thus be sure to go over the job description carefully as well as review your past positions. 
  • ACTION - what you did in that situation, or how you completed the task
    
    Instead of saying “The team and I did…”, focus on the value you brought to the team. 
  • RESULT -  the outcome of your actions
    
    Be honest, but confident when talking about your accomplishments. Make sure your answer contains a positive result. 

Tips for Using the STAR Technique in a Job Interview

✅ Review the job description carefully.

The job description lists the duties and responsibilities of the position, as well as the qualifications required to perform the tasks. Hence, by reading it over and over, you can predict what STAR questions might be asked by the interviewer and use the STAR method to prepare your answers. 

✅ Write down your strengths.

Most interview questions are designed for the recruiter to evaluate your strengths, and an answer in STAR format is exceptionally effective in helping you demonstrate your skills.  

Some strengths you could mention for the action in the STAR method  in your response:

  • Attention to detail
  • Determination
  • Analytical thinking
  • Strong communication skills
  • Trustworthiness
  • A fast learner
  • A great team-player
  • Solid work ethic

✅ Support your claims with numbers.

With CakeResume, you can easily create a CV online and download your CV’s PDF format for free. Land your dream job and create your CV online (free download) now!

You may have heard about the importance of quantifying achievements when writing a resume/CV. It works the same way for preparing for an interview using the STAR approach. From the perspective of employers, a statement with figures will be more convincing and better prove your competencies. 

STAR example answer with quantifiable results:

“For my last freelance project, I had to produce 3-4 articles per week to keep the blog fresh. I  created a content plan and set a deadline for myself. As a result, I was never late for submitting any articles, and the blog entries I’d delivered ranked between #13 and #7 in Google’s search results.”

✅ Match your skills to the job. 

Whatever STAR questions the recruiter asks you at the interview, try to tailor your answer to the job you're applying for, showcasing qualifications and skills that are sought after by the recruiter in your STAR answer. By doing so, you can better demonstrate your skills and professionalism. Make sure that you mention both soft skills and hard skills - just like writing a resume. 

✅ Make a list of the example situations.

To be well prepared for the actual job interview, after you’ve done your research for desired skills and qualities, think of situations which you’ve dealt with and through which you can demonstrate those skills and qualities using the STAR method to answer interview questions.

Example situations:

  • Describe the most challenging project you've worked on. How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever made a big mistake at work? How did you resolve the consequences?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed. 
  • Share an example of workplace conflict. Have you experienced it before and what did you do?
  • What is your typical way of dealing with stressful situations?

✅ Practice with a friend.

The best way to practice the STAR interview technique is doing mock interviews with your friends. Speak with your school advisor or seniors if you're a recent graduate looking for the first job. This way, you can learn a lot of valuable advice, practice what to say and how to react, and boost your self-confidence. 

✅ Pay attention to your voice and body language.

A proper tone of voice and professional body language can help present your best self in the interview and thus increase your chances of being hired. Try to speak clearly and match the interviewer's volume so they can hear everything you say. Regarding body language, keep in mind to pay attention to your smile, eye contact, and hand gestures.  

✅ Focus on your own actions and achievements. 

As mentioned earlier, you should convey your experience and qualifications instead of mentioning your team or your manager. Even though teamwork is an important skill, hiring managers want to make sure you are capable of performing your job efficiently and contributing to the organization.   

Interview Questions and STAR Answers

To better understand the STAR technique, check out the 8 STAR method interview questions and answers shown below. 

✨ STAR Method Example – Leadership

Q: Describe a situation in which you led a team through a difficult situation.

A: Last Christmas, my company launched an insurance plan that targeted a brand-new group of audience but most target customers showed no interest in our new product. As sales representatives, my peers and I were put under a lot of pressure.

However, I spent a lot of time talking with my team members to listen to and understand their difficulties. I helped them to find resources to solve their problems and led discussions on the best ways to promote the product. I also proactively spoke with the manager to set a more realistic goal.

The result was we exceeded sales KPIs by 25% and I was awarded the “Employee of The Year” prize in 2020.

✨ STAR Method Example – Teamwork

Q: Tell me about a time when you showed strong teamwork skills. 

A: I once worked with a team of 10 freelance content writers for three months. At that time, I was responsible for assigning work to them and checking the quality of their articles for the final submission.

I held weekly meetings with them to discuss new topics to write about and share our own feedback regarding work performance and allocation of work. By the end of the project, I was praised as “an exceptional team player" by my manager. The freelancers also said they had a nice time working with me.

✨ STAR Method Example – Problem Solving

Q: Describe an instance where you successfully resolved a job-related problem. 

A: It occurred in my last job at SANTU Travel when I had to deal with a tourist who was unhappy with the route of a tour and caused a scene.

I maintained my composure before approaching him and offered him other options that he might be interested in. When talking to him, I noticed that he likes taking pictures and posting them on his social media. Thus, I also showed him the Client Diary which contains photographs of my clients taken at various beautiful spots that were included in many of our packages.

After viewing the book and other tour details, he stayed with us and made more of an effort to engage in a kind manner.

✨ STAR Method Example – Communication

Q: Have you ever failed at an important task or event?

A: At my last restaurant, I was responsible for making sure everything was in order in the kitchen and the Back-of-House before the inspector arrived.

One time, there was a reservation of 30 people at the restaurant but my team struggled with communication. The result was we failed to serve food on time and some dishes were not good looking as required by the customer. 

Through that experience, I learned how important it is to maintain effective communication within the team. From then on, I encourage people to voice their concerns and actively listen to them and make sure everyone on the team does the same.

That way, everyone understands clearly what they need to do. We never make the same mistake again. 

✨ STAR Method Example – Conflict Management

Q: Share an example of a team conflict. How did you resolve it?  

A: Last January, the very first foreign employee joined my graphic design team. He is nice and gets along well with everyone. However, when it came to group discussion, his strong personality seemed to upset some people, making us difficult to find common ground.

We often ended up having big arguments. I understood that my job as a team leader is to encourage workplace diversity while also finding ways for team members to successfully collaborate with each other. After his first two weeks, I had a private meeting with him in which I pointed out his strengths and limitations. I also let him know my expectations and listened to his thoughts.

At the following meetings, I always stepped up as a team leader if needed and tried to reconcile the differences within the team. Besides that, I set a fun but serious vibe to ensure everyone was engaged in a positive environment. As a result,  my team were happier and more productive.

✨ STAR Interview Questions and Answers for Managers

Q: Explain a situation where you organized an event for at least 500 participants. 

A: Earlier this year, I had to plan a 400 guest wedding with a $25,000 budget. As an Event Manager, I handled all elements of event planning, including vendor management, contract negotiation, timeline development, and budget administration.

In addition to the attention to detail, I also used my negotiation skills and flexible cost-cutting strategies to deliver an event that exceed client expectations. The result is the clients were very pleased with our service and everyone had a nice time at the wedding. 

✨ STAR Interview Questions and Answers for Customer Service Jobs

Q: Give me an example of how you improve a dissatisfied customer's experience.

A: In my last role as a customer success specialist, a customer received a product that was different from what she ordered online. She was so mad that she wrote a long, negative review on our Facebook page. Honestly, I felt very bad too because I put myself in the customer’s shoes.

Right after I saw her feedback, I contacted her by phone, expressed our deepest apology, and assisted her with the product return. I also provided her with a discount on the next purchase for the item she first ordered. As a result, she hung up in a much better mood and deleted her review a few weeks later.

STAR Technique Template

Learn how to apply the STAR technique through 3 templates for a great STAR response to interview questions. 

💡 STAR technique template #1:

In my previous role as a [job title], I had [describe your problem]. I was in charge of [your responsibilites]. I had to [list out the actions taken to resolve the problem]. As a result, I achieved [outcome #1] and [outcome #2]

💡 STAR technique template #2:

Last [the specific time/period], I had to [explain the situation]. I was [how it affected you]

I tried to [what you have done to cope with it]. Finally, I was able to [accomplishment #1], and [accomplishment #2]..

💡 STAR technique template #3:

During my previous role, I was a [job title]. My job was to [job tasks and responsibilities]. The goal is to [expected outcome]. In order to achieve the desired results, I [describe what you have done in detail]. I utilized the skills I learned in [hard skill #1] and [hard skill #2] as well as my comprehensive understanding of [your area of specialization]. In the end, I have [achievement #1]and [achievement #2]

🔑  Key Takeaways: 

Many of you struggle when it comes to selling yourself in job interviews. But don't panic as the STAR interview response method can help share your accomplishments without sounding boastful. This is also the best way to show hiring managers and recruiters that you're the right candidate for the vacancy. 

Let us help you summarize the key tips for a smooth job interview using the STAR technique:

  • Be as specific as possible. 
  • Focus on the action part and your own contribution. 
  • Match what you say with the job you're applying for. 
  • Provide concrete examples or proof and quantifiable results. 
  • Maintain proper body language and facial expression. 

With CakeResume, you can easily create a CV online and download your CV’s PDF format for free. Land your dream job and create your CV online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by May Luong ---

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