The STAR Interview Technique, Method & Questions

What is STAR interview technique?

The STAR interview technique (STAR model interview) is a method and framework that interviewers utilise to assess competence suitability for a role through a set of behavioural interview questions. The STAR interview technique includes behavioural interview questions, these are experiential that ask the interviewee to describe a past situation.

The STAR interview technique is a four-step method of answering behavioural interview questions:

  1. Situation: Describe the scene and the time it occurred.
  2. Task: Summarise the activity and the aim of that activity.
  3. Action: Give a clear answer about the steps you took to achieve this.
  4. Result: Ending with the outcomes of your activity.
The STAR interview questions are meant to elicit a narrative response from the candidates. When answering behavioural interview questions, you are required to employ the STAR interview method. STAR Interview Questions or situational interview questions are ones that seek to learn about your previous “behaviours” in specific work circumstances to provide insight in to how you react in a similar situation for the role you’re interviewing for. Many companies as part of their recruitment process integrate the STAR model for interviewing so therefore as an interviewee it’s vital that you follow the Competency method or technique for athe majority of interview questions and behaviours that might come up. Competency interview questions usually begin with either “Tell me about a time…” or “Provide and example of…”. For example if you’re in a leadership role expect communication and management to be a key behaviour they might be assessing and a question could be “ Tell me about a time where you’ve had to motivate an under performing team?”

How to master the star method for interview questions?

Understanding the STAR coaching model and undertaking competency-based interview training prior to the interview is key. Consider it as telling a story which with the ST being the Beginning Action being the Middle and the Result being the Ending. Within the STAR coaching model before the interview there are a number of different competencies that you should be thinking about such as teamwork, leadership, time management, conflict resolution and innovation.

For each of the above competencies you should be looking to develop at least 1-2 stories for each by applying the STAR technique examples this will put you will be in a strong position before the job interview. Now within your STAR method story there are some fundamental things that you should be focused on firstly provide key facts and figures where possible, as this provides context and help paint a clear picture in the mind of the interview panel. You should also look to align abilities the employer is searching for or that are essential for the job interview.

When it comes to the Actions, again alignment between what the requirements for the job role are and what you did are crucial. Remember an interview answers is a super condensed version of what really happened. If you were to explain all aspects of the start as it happened in reality you could be explaining for 30minutes. Therefore it’s important to filter out the actions from the story that are most relevant for the role and the questions being asked. The Method I recommend you apply is simply to put yourself in the interviewers shoes and consider what you might be looking for if you were recruiting for the role. This helps gets rid of a lot of the fuzz.

Again to reiterate, being interviewed in this method, since you have to demonstrate to the recruiter that you have the necessary skills or abilities and how it will translate when doing the new job. One thing to keep in mind is that selecting the ideal success story for the scenario is critical. Make sure the behaviour you’re displaying in the interview corresponds to the one the recruiter is looking for. And if you don’t even have any job experience to draw from, try to recall a similar incident from your experience, whether from academics, sports, charity work etc.

How to answer interview questions using STAR method?

In a STAR interviewing, behavioural interview questions are ones that reveal to the interviewer how you manage work conditions, obstacles, or situations. STAR model interview is designed to provide insight into your strengths, skills, and personality traits, and can assist interviewers in predicting how you will act in future scenarios. The STAR interviewing technique is the most effective method or technique for you to provide a comprehensive response that shows how you’ll manage projects, collaborate with colleagues, and take ownership of difficult work related situations. The STAR interviewing method (Situation, Task, Action and Results) will assist you in breaking down such interview questions into the when, where, what, and how, as well as articulating the outcomes without rambling. The STAR interviewing technique also systematises how to answer the behavioural interview questions by building a narrative involving the four key steps. Firstly, you must explain when, where and what situation you faced in past. Secondly, you must demonstrate what strategy was chosen by you to achieve the goal of delivering or overcoming the situation. Thirdly, what action or steps did you apply and finally, what was the outcome of your action. When an applicant engages with an interviewer, the STAR technique examples enable the job applicant to present personal instances or facts in response to situational interview questions that the job seeker has the necessary skills and expertise and provides a comprehensive response by covering all four phases.

What is the STAR method when interviewing?

An element of most job interviews is designated to competency or behavioural interview questions. Recruiters use these interview questions to analyse an interviewee’s experiences and qualities. Such interview questions are meant to elicit a narrative response from the candidates. The STAR strategy involves the utilisation of STAR method examples for answering challenging situational interview questions in an structured manner while covering all relevant key points. The STAR approach allows the creation of a basic and straightforward story that highlights the four key steps from facing the challenging issue up to its resolution. Here is how each of the STAR technique’s four parts works:
  1. Situation: Give a context and history to the situation to lay the basis for the story. If you are asked regarding teamwork, you should describe the project, who you collaborated with, when you started the project, and where you were at the time.
  2. Task: Explain your specific role or responsibilities in the circumstance. Make sure the recruiter knows what you were supposed to perform exactly, instead of what everyone else performed.
  3. Action: This is the most crucial section of the story. You should describe how you dealt with the challenging scenario or solved the problem in this section. Indicate if you worked alone or in a group. What you are attempting to convey is your appraisal of the scenario, your answer to the problem, and how you enlisted the help of the team.
  4. Result: Wrap things up by saying how your activities resulted in a favourable outcome and what skills you learned. Quantify the outcomes and demonstrate the impact of your actions if possible.

Strategy for answering behavioural questions

Since you never know what information the interviewer will question, most behavioural interviews tend to focus on workplace issues. The applicant should be able to present critical reasoning and issue solving skills, as well as the capacity to operate under stress, resolve conflicts, and having competence in leadership settings. All Competency-based and Situational interview Questions need you to offer an example of a circumstance in which you have participated. Even though this is a simple request, failing to be geared up with a strong example may lead you to waffle, resulting in a low-grade answer. In a behavioural interview, answers must have a specific framework and are typically measured by the interviewer. If you want to improve your interview skills, the most efficient and effective method for delivering a strong competency response is to:
  1. Listen to the question carefully
  2. Select an appropriate example
  3. Choose an appropriate steps to answer the question
Selection of an appropriate example: Assess the job description and necessary skills as part of your interview preparation and determine the kind of issues that may develop or hurdles that you must overcome. Next, make a list of the many scenarios you have dealt with in the previous jobs that you believe reflect the skills you’ll need to succeed in the new role. Choosing the appropriate success stories from previous experience to be shared in job interviews is the first key step in interview preparation. The chosen example should fulfil the requirements asked in the question that the interviewer is looking for.
Choose an appropriate steps for answering behavioural questions. The STAR approach is a technique for assisting people in providing a framework for meaningful responses with completely defined starting, middles, and endings. The situation, Task, Action You Made, and Result are all acronyms of STAR. This strategy allows you to present a flowing story that begins with the scenario, progresses to the task you were given, moves on to the actions you took and concludes with the outcome of what actually happened in a positive way.

Examples of STAR interview questions

Jobinterviewlogy is a platform for competency interview coaching and behavioural interview training( STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, Result) is one of the most prevalent interview methods If you want to improve your competency-based interviews, Jobinterviewology provides everything from online training to one-on-one interview coaching for all levels and industries (IT, telecoms, construction, finance, third sector, engineering logistics, FMCG, service industry etc.). From the Jobinterviewology online course, here is a sample of several difficult STAR interview questions. Think about how you would respond to these questions and what instances you would be using to answer effectively.
  1. Tell me about a time whenever your leadership skills have helped to inspire and motive a team? (Examining Leadership qualities)
  2. Describe a time when you had to make a hard choice at work. How did you formulate your decision? (Decision making)
  3. Describe a modification you implemented that resulted in better client service. (Development and Change)
  4. Describe an instance when you and your supervisor had a disagreement. How did you come up with a solution? (Managing higher authority stress)
  5. Describe a situation when you had to interact with a large group of people. Tell me how you were able to effectively communicate your message? (Communication)
  6. Describe an instance when you needed to make last-minute alterations to your plans in order to finish a critical task on time? (Organization and Planning)
  7. Explain a case in which you made a judgment based on evidence or logic? (Logical thinking)
  8. Tell me about a moment when you took initiative at work? (Work Completion)
  9. Describe a time when you were under a lot of strain at your job. How did you deal with it? (Ability to handle stressful situations)
  10. Describe an instance when you had to deal with a challenging situation at work. How did you resolve the issue? (Problem-solving ability)
  11. Describe a case in which you demonstrated your capacity to make the best use of existing resources at your disposal while providing excellent service for the customers. (Providing a High-Quality Service)
  12. Provide an example of a time where you’ve had to disagree with a senior colleague? (Leadership)

Examples  of answering interview question using STAR technique model

Question One: What should you do if a group member refuses to finish his or her job task?

Explain your overall quality: Explain your abilities that match with this situation in start. Like you can say that when there are group disagreements or challenges, I try my level best to step in and lead the team if necessary. My communication abilities, I believe, make me a good leader and mediator.

Situation, after presenting your particular quality, give an example of such situation that you faced previously. As you can say, when I was engaged in a group project, two of the teammates got into a disagreement and refused to accomplish their tasks. This situation might affect our project collectively. Ensure you provide facts, figures, size and scale.
Task, after describing the particular situation, you have to tell the task you were assigned, or you had to do to resolve the situation. Like you can say that both teammates were unhappy with their workload, so, I was supposed to reduce their workload.
Action, after understanding the task to be done, you have to talk about the action you took to solve the situation. Like you can say that I convened a team meeting in which we redistributed all of the team’s responsibilities. Here it’s important to signpost and break the actions in to steps by saying firstly, secondly, thirdly and finally.
Result, at the end, you have to wrap up your answer with the outcome of your action like you can say Everyone was generally more productive as a result, and our mission was successful. Provide a measure of success in relation to the what the outcome would have been if you were not successful in your endeavour, where possible use facts, figures, percentage improvements to demonstrate this.


Question Two: Can you recall a time when you made a mistake at the workplace and how you dealt with it?

When I was working at the warehouse facility which managed over £20million in stock and over 10,000 items per day, I made a big mistake that resulted in the company not having enough stock during a peak season, only having 7,000 items. I alerted my line manager as soon as I realized I had got it wrong. In a circumstance like this, truth and honesty are critical. My boss was irritated by the error I had made. He was grateful, though, that we got the chance to try to fix it. I requested him to give me a chance to sort things out, and he agreed. The first thing I did was to call our supplier to ask if the extra stock I had overlooked could be delivered in time for the holiday season. They said they would look in to it. Secondly was to manage the expectations of our clients, I contacted our Account management to let them know there could be a slight delay in some deliveries, this was important so that they could communicate to the client and support them in developing and contingency plans if there was a delay. The supplier said that they could deliver the stock but it would take one week. Result was that all the clients successfully received their stock with minimal interruptions to their business. I was able to do this because I accepted my mistake ad took ownership in resolving it. Also important was honest with the management and clearly communicated with all stakeholders to achieve the bet possible outcome considering the difficult circumstances.

Question Three: When was the last time you had to deal with a lot of work pressure?

At my last employment, a co-worker suddenly left. He was in charge of a project which had to be accomplished in 4week. My manager requested a volunteer to assume the project from the rest of the team. I made the decision to come in and take charge. To be fair, I enjoy working pressure and I believe it’s important to step up in a time of need. The first thing I did was to thoroughly read the proposal, this was important as I needed to get a complete overview of the situation and identify potential challenges and barriers. I found that one of the biggest issues around testing. Once I knew this, the second thing I did was devised a strategy for completing the project on time and under budget. My strategy consisted of three key steps including step one (insert step), Step two (insert step) and Step three ( insert step). It was difficult, but I put in the additional hours of effort required, and I am delighted to report that the job was completed on schedule and to specifications. My boss was quite pleased with my work commitment and effort. He expressed his gratitude for my devotion and perseverance to complete this critical assignment. Which saved us over £15,000.

Question Four: Describe a time when you’ve had to deal with a difficult customer?

I used to work in customer support and once had to interact with an enraged customer. Our item had disappointed them, and they demanded a refund. The company’s policy on “no refunds” after 14 days, this was a rare occurrence as our items were trustworthy. I maintained my composure whilst they were ranting and didn’t interrupt, I knew that if I wanted to achieve a meaningful outcome from this situation it required the customer to be in a calm, emotional state. Once the customer had calmed down I empathised with them and said I understand that they’re upset. I then highlighted that we don’t do refunds because it’s been over 14 days but we can look at other options, I walked them through the store and discussed the different items and said as a gesture of good will I’m happy to exchange the product for the more expensive one and gave them a 20% discount on the item which resulted it being only marginally more expensive then the original item but of a much better quality. The customer was happy to trade up and the result was satisfied. The customer later apologised for the earlier outburst and since then has become a regular customer.

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