Have you ever stumbled trying to answer an interview question like, “Tell me about a time you failed?” Well, you don’t have to anymore. At least not if you learn how to use the STAR interview method!
That’s because the STAR method of interviewing makes sure your answer contains all the details you’ll need to impress hiring managers.
And, in this post, I’m going to break everything down so you know exactly what it is and how to use it in your next interview. I’ll also share some example answers you can reference during your interview preparation.
Let’s kick things off with a brief explanation of what STAR means.
What Is The Star Interview Method?
STAR is an acronym that helps you remember the best way to prepare for situational interview questions like, “Tell me about a time you solved a problem at work?”. The acronym stands for:
Situation: an anecdote about a time you’re faced with a work problem
Task: details about what made the work problem challenging
Action: the steps you took to solve the problem
Result: how your employer benefited from you solving the problem
If you include all of that information, your answers to interview questions will leave no doubt about what kind of value you can bring to the job!
Breaking Down The 4-Step Star Interview Method Answer
Let’s now break down each part of the STAR method interview technique so you know exactly how to craft your answers.
Step 1: Find The Right Situation
To start, go through a list of the most common interview questions and begin writing down all of the relevant anecdotes that come to mind.
A good anecdote allows you to talk about skills and qualifications relevant to the job and company you’re now applying for. Why? Because you need to demonstrate you’ve done your research.
According to one study, 47% of applicants failed job interviews due to not showing they’ve thoroughly researched the job and company. Don’t be that person!
Find an anecdote. But make sure it’s one that lets you showcase relevant transferable skills.
Step 2: Explain The Task
Next, you’ll want to explain what problem you were faced with and what made it challenging. The goal here is to walk the interviewer through why your employer needed this issue to be solved.
Let’s go back to the question “Tell me about a time you solved a problem at work?” as an example. Was it a problem you were asked to solve? Were you proactively searching for a way to make an impact? What was this problem costing the company?
Once you’ve stated why solving the problem was important, move on to how you solved it.
Step 3: Share Your Actions
Now, walk the interviewer through your process. This will help give them an idea of how you would handle a similar problem if hired for the role at their company.
For example, even if you’re attempting to change careers, show how your responsibilities at your previous job have prepared you to succeed in this new role.
Step 4: Reveal The Results
In this last step, you need to make sure the interviewer knows the impact of your solution. And your best bet is to focus primarily on what value it brought to your employer with measurable results.
For example, did your actions contribute to a noticeable increase in company revenue, customer retention, or new company partnerships? What about something like increased efficiency for your team or the company at large?
Getting this part right is essential to really make your response memorable and impressive. So, let’s see how it looks with a few examples!
Example Star Method Interview Responses
Here are two examples of how to use the STAR interview response technique. Use them as inspiration when preparing for your next interview!
Example 1: Account Manager
I had just been hired as an account manager when things started going bad. Due to a poorly received publicity stunt, the company was losing some of our most important stakeholders.
I’d experienced something similar – albeit on a smaller scale – at my previous job and had some ideas of things we could try to control the damage and get some of our big accounts back. So, I shared my ideas with my manager. And she liked them so much that she put me in charge of a small interdepartmental team to really focus on this specific problem.
As a result of this combined effort, we managed to reacquire four of our big accounts, improve our brand image with customers, and exceed our expected yearly revenue by 9%.
Example 2: Teacher
As a new teacher, you’re never really prepared for all the things that can go wrong. Halfway through the first semester, I realized that one of my students had plagiarized his midterm essay.
This may seem innocent in high school. But I knew that he’d face harsh consequences in college if he kept this up. So, I scheduled a short meeting with him and his parents to discuss the issue. And, in that meeting, I found out that he struggled with writing research papers because he didn’t remember learning how to.
So, I made a deal with him. He could come in early one day to learn how to format this kind of paper and rewrite it or receive a failing grade. He chose to rewrite the paper. It wasn’t as good as the first one. But after that, I could tell he wrote more confidently and, eventually, with above-average skills.
Whether it be for common questions, like “Tell me about yourself,” or more complex problem solving interview questions, the STAR method will help you deliver impressive answers during interviews.
As a reminder, STAR stands for:
- Situation: an anecdote about a time you’re faced with a work problem
- Task: details about what made the work problem challenging
- Action: the steps you took to solve the problem
- Result: how your employer benefited from you solving the problem
An answer like that ensures you give interviewers all the information they need to evaluate your fit for the job. To demonstrate that even further, make sure to follow up with a post interview thank you email!