Career Tips 11/09/2019 by "Hannah Mlynar"

Acing Your Job Interview Using the STAR Method

Job interviews are stressful. Even for those who are comfortable taking the reins of conversations and speaking in front of groups. It is all too easy to lose your footing and spend the rest of the interview trying to recover. 

There is so much that we ideally want to communicate when we go in for an interview. This, combined with what the interviewer wants to extract from us, can make it tough to stay on track and keep the best foot forward. 

It is for this reason that the STAR technique has been so popular for so long.

The STAR method is one of the best formulas to follow for answering behavioural based questions. “Tell me about a time when..”, “have you ever…”, “what do you do when…”. These questions are designed to subtract real, tangible examples that can help the interviewer to determine how you would handle certain situations. 

These questions are an excellent opportunity for you to really shine. But when answered without structure, they can also cause many applicants to stumble and miss opportunities.  

So, what is the STAR method?

The STAR method is an easy-to-follow system for answering questions in a way that is sure to give the interviewer what they need, while keeping you on track, thus positioning you in the best light.

STAR is an acronym for how one should structure their answers. It stands for the following: 

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Situation

When answering an interviewers question, you need to present the situation. This is where you provide context. Give them information about where you worked. What team you belonged to. The structure of the team. An instance that brought about this situation. Whatever you deem important to paint an accurate picture of the situation. 

Task

Depending on your role, it may be easier to think of “target” instead of “task”. In either case, you need to clearly describe what your role was, what you were tasked with, or what your target was. What were you expected to achieve based on the situation you were in? This is what the interviewer will be trying to understand. 

Action

This is the part that most people want to start with. “I did XYZ, and it achieved blah results.” But the background from S and T are important to paint the picture and uplift yourself so that this section makes your actions really stand out. Just as important as what you did, you need to describe why you did it, what other alternatives there were and why you came to the action you did. This gives insight into your decision-making process. 

Results

Finally, the outcome. Describe what the results of your actions were. Did you meet your objectives? What did you learn from this experience? 

While it may mess up the acronym, it is worth adding an additional R to your STAR. This one for “Reflection”. 

Reflection

What happens after results are achieved? Hopefully, you reapply your learnings. Once you’ve presented your results, it is strongly recommended to add how you have used these learnings since. Presenting static results is fine, but highlighting how you can take results and re-apply them into other tasks, shows that you grow through your experiences. 

The best way to master the STARR method is to practise. Look up behavioural questions and think about how you would answer these using the STARR method. You can practise in front of a mirror, or you can come in and practise in front of us