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Tomorrow’s my interview. I’m so nervous that I’m sweating bullets. They’re going to ask me all kinds of questions, and their randomness makes it difficult to prepare for.
I wish there was a way I could answer their questions perfectly, every time; I wish there was a secret method or strategy.
Well, you’re in luck!
There is a special formula that works every time when tasked with answering behavioral interview questions: the STAR Method.
So, get ready to ace your upcoming interview with this STAR interview guide and tutorial on how to answer STAR interview questions.
This STAR method interview prep guide will show you:
The STAR Interview Method is a proven way to answer behavioral interview questions. (We’ll explain what behavioral interview questions are in the next chapter.)
Sounds pretty simple, right?
Sure, but how do those four words solve my interview worries on behavioral questions?
We’ll answer that in just a moment, but first, let’s go over what behavioral questions are in the next chapter.
The STAR method is often called the CAR method, which stands for Context/Challenge, Action, Result. They’re essentially the same method, with the Context of the CAR technique being equivalent to the Situation and Task of the STAR technique. It is synonymous, too, with the PAR method, which stands for Problem, Action, Result.
Pro Tip: The STAR technique is perfect for everything. It lets you talk about achievements on your resume rather than boring tasks and responsibilities, too!
The STAR method is one of the greatest behavioral interview tips, but we’ve got tons of interview advice for all stages of your big day: Best Job Interview Tips, Advice and Techniques
The company interviewer or hiring manager assess your answer to see if you are capable of taking proper initiative and action should a similar situation take place.
Behavioral interview questions are one of the biggest pain points for interviewees. The hiring manager or recruiter isn’t looking for a simple answer, like a “yes/no,” but rather a semi-detailed story.
And, even if you have no work experience, behavioral questions and answers can be associated with other situations, such as university projects or volunteering responsibilities.
Behavior-based interview questions often start in similar ways, such as:
Ok, so now you get the gist, but let’s take a quick quiz to find out if you really understand where we’ll apply the STAR method.
Which of the following is an example of a behavioral question?
[A] Give me an example of how you would handle an irate customer phone call.
[B] Tell me about a time when you performed well under enormous pressure.
[C] Where do you see yourself in five years?
So, what’s your answer?
Well, the correct answer is [B]. Answer [C] is clearly not of the behavioral types of interview questions, and [A] was a trick answer; answer [A], though it starts the way many behavioral questions do, is actually a situational interview question.
Pro Tip: Situational interview questions focus on speculative events in the future. Instead of giving the interviewer an actual event and how you handled it from your past work experience, a situational answer considers how you might act in a situation that might happen in the company’s future.
As for answer [C], you can check out our great article to prepare for this important question: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?” Interview Question [Examples]
Well, we know what behavioral questions in interviews are, and we know the basic concept of the STAR method, as well.
But how do we combine the two to make you the star of the interview?
Let’s use the above answer [B] as a lesson on how to answer a star interview question:
“Tell me about a time when you performed well under enormous pressure.”
Using the STAR method to answer this question, we’ll first start the storytelling with the situation:
One time, at my last job, my coworker had a family emergency and needed to miss work for some time, and their super-important project was left unfinished and without a manager.
Next, we’ll give them the task:
My supervisor instructed me to take on the project, and with no leniency on the deadline, I had days to complete a project that originally should have taken several weeks.
Then the action taken to solve the problem:
I requested and was granted a reduction in my weekly goals, allotting me more time to attack the special project. As far as my weekly goals, I was able to delegate them out evenly to some of my teammates.
And finally, the result of our actions:
With the reduction in my daily goals, I was able to dedicate more time to the special project. This allowed me to finish it on time and with complete accuracy. My supervisor appreciated my attitude and drive, and I was given several more projects after that, along with an eventual promotion and pay raise.
See that? It might have been a long story for an answer, but following the STAR interview format will give you detailed responses the interviewer expects when asking a behavioral-based interview question.
And, it’s not too hard to do, either. As long as you work out each step in the STAR method in order, you’ll nail your answer and impress them while you’re at it.
Pro Tip: When answering in the STAR formula, use the first person singular - “I did such-and-such” rather than “we did such-and-such” - it will keep the focus on you.
At your interview, there’ll come a time when you’ll have the opportunity to ask them some questions, as well. Don’t get caught off guard: 65 Questions to Ask an Interviewer (Examples for Specific Jobs)
Not as hard as you thought, right?
You understand the STAR format interview, as well as what a behavioral interview question is and how to answer it.
Now, let’s look at some common behavioral interview questions along with great examples of STAR answers.
Here’s a list of typical STAR interview questions and answers:
Reread the STAR interview questions and answers examples above for inspiration. Notice it’s not important what you have to talk about. It’s important how you do it.
Pro Tip: Some interview questions may not literally be questions at all, such as “Describe a time when such-and-such happened . . .” They could still require a STAR response, though!
These are the most common behavioral questions at interviews, but for other common questions and how to answer them, see this: Common Job Interview Questions and Best Answers (20 Examples)
For behavioral interview questions, specifically, check out these great articles:
Behavioral questions for interviews may seem difficult to tackle at first glance, but with the STAR method, answering behavioral interview questions couldn’t be more simple and straightforward.
Keep these points in mind as you figure out how to prepare for a STAR interview:
Remember - Memorizing the STAR acronym makes it much easier to answer a list of behavioral interview questions, but you must still make sure to remember it in the proper order to give the perfect answer.
Practice - Spend time getting the STAR formula right by giving yourself some practice STAR questions and answers before the interview.
Prepare - Prepare for your interview and avoid getting blindsided by studying our list of the best behavioral interview questions and answers.
Do these, and you’ll know exactly how to ace STAR interviews.
Still not grasping the STAR acronym or what is the STAR interview process? Not sure how to prepare for STAR interviews? Give us a shout in the comments below and we will answer your question. Thanks for reading!
"Career advice, I've researched and read it, Then I try to write it better than anyone's said it, Once I am finished with all of my edits, You'll have a job, and I'll take some of the credit." Hey there! I'm Christian, a New Yorker and a writer of career advice at Zety. As an avid traveler and amateur poet, I also write for a travel website and dabble in doggerel in my spare time.