How to Ace Interviews with the STAR Method [9+ Examples]
Behavioral job interview questions are difficult.
The interviewer said, “Can you tell me about a time when it was …… now?” Everything seems to be going well until you drop your question.
What will happen now?
You are trying to find a consistent answer, but you cannot think of anything in place.
So, you say something weird (which you instantly regret) and you pray for the interviewer to let it slide.
… But it didn’t have to go that way. There’s a way to give a good answer to every behavioral job interview question:
The STAR Method.
In this guide, we’ll teach you exactly what it is and how to use it to succeed in your future job interview!
Keep on reading to find out:
- What is the STAR method and when is it used?
- 4 tips to keep in mind when responding with the STAR method
- 9 sample job interview responses following the STAR method
What is the STAR Method and When You Should Use?
So first of all – what exactly is the STAR method?
In short, the STAR method is a structured answer that can be used to answer most behavioral interview questions.
Here it means:
- (S) Situation – What is the context? First explain the situation or background.
- (T) Task – Talk about your responsibilities or the tasks you need to complete (i.e. what was the challenge for the particular task?)
- (A) Action – How did you correct the situation? Describe your process and the steps you took.
- (R) Results – Describe the results of your actions. Use numbers or hard data if possible (for example, by what percentage did you increase overall sales? What changed?).
While you can use the STAR method for ANY interview question, it is most useful for answering behavioral interview questions.
So what exactly are behavioral interview questions?
In short, they are like any interview question, but their main focus is on real-life job situations.
- What’s your #1 strength?
Behavioral Interview Question
- Give us an example of how you use your # 1 power in the workplace and what kind of results it produces.
Makes sense, right?
Now, here are a few examples of what those questions might look like:
- Can you give an example of when you should take responsibility in your previous role? What happened and how did you react?
- Tell me about a time when you faced a tight deadline. Have you still managed to complete your missions? How?
- Have you ever set specific goals for yourself at work? How were you sure you will reach your goals?
Now that you know what behavioral interview questions are, let’s look at an example response following the STAR method:
Behavioral Interview Question:
“Give me an example of when you had to be very strategic in your tasks to meet all of your responsibilities under a specific deadline.”
Situation – “I usually like to plan my working weeks ahead of time if possible. But in my previous role as sales manager at Company X, I suddenly had to move the team to a new customer relationship management (CRM) software. The software we used before unexpectedly changed the pricing model, making it very expensive for us. ”
Task -“I had to find a new software that met our needs at the end of the 3rd quarter (when the price increase hit) while keeping my own sales figures from falling. The new tool also had to be intuitive and easy for our employees to adapt to. ”
Action -“To do this I had to be very careful how I managed my time. The first thing I did was ask our sales partners what was the number one problem with our current CRM, so I knew what to look for in the new one besides the price factor. After that, I spent 1-2 hours researching each day and started migrating our data after finding the new software. I deleted all old contacts, updated missing information on our current leads, and caught the team on how to use the new software. In the meantime, I was fulfilling my daily responsibilities as usual without any decrease in performance. ” How do I prepare for a Star interview?,#How do you answer the STAR method interview question?,#What is the best way to ace an interview?,#What are the STAR interview questions?,#What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer?,#What are your weaknesses?,#How can I impress the interviewer?,#What are some good signs you got the job?,#What you should not say in an interview?,#How do you close an interview?,#What are your strengths?,#How do you answer why should we hire you?,#Why do employers use the STAR method?,#What is the best answer for Tell me about yourself in interview?,#What are the top 10 interview questions?,#What are your strengths Star Method?,#How do you answer Where do you see yourself in 5 years?,#What are your strengths and weaknesses?,#Is a 20 minute interview a bad sign?,#Are long interviews a good sign?,#Is getting an interview a good sign?
Results – “Finally, we managed to complete the transfer 1 week after the deadline. I completed the quarter 12% ahead of my sales targets and the team was satisfied with the new CRM. Everything went well by planning ahead and taking the appropriate time. ”
- This is an almost perfect answer following the STAR method.
- It provides the right amount of background, clearly shows the challenge without going into too much detail, presents the process as it approaches the problem, and ends with a high grade using data and numbers to show its results.
- Using the formula above, it’s much easier to structure your answer so that the HR manager doesn’t get lost as you follow your story.
- Now, if you really want to validate your answer, here’s what you need to keep in mind while following the STAR structure:
4 Tips on Getting the Most Out of the STAR Method
Knowing what the abbreviation means is only the first step.
The way to really get the most out of the method:
1) Keep It Relevant
- It looks obvious, right?
- But here’s the thing:
- Even if you follow the STAR formula all the way to T, it won’t be much if your answer isn’t relevant.
- Consider this: What are you trying to explain with your answer?
- Ideally, it should be relevant to your position and show that you have come equipped with the skills to help with the job you are looking for.
- For example, if you’re applying for a job in graphic design, you wouldn’t start talking about your greatest achievement in accounting, would you?
- If your answer isn’t business-related, basically it won’t count.
2) Have a Few Examples Ready
- There is no way of knowing in advance what kind of behavioral interview questions the interviewer will ask.
- However, it is still a good idea to have a few examples that follow the STAR method.
- That way, you can change and adapt your answer on the go, depending on the question.
- Remember, though, that your answers should not be a memorized script word for word.
- You will want to look natural when you answer.
- If you’re having trouble finding an answer during the interview, don’t be afraid to wait a minute and ask for a sample.
- It may take a few seconds and you can first configure your answer in your mind. The HR manager may be glad that you are not in a hurry with your answers.
- While you may never know what questions to ask during the interview, you can still prepare for the most common ones. Check out the full list of the most common interview questions and answers here!
3) Give Proper Context
Imagine telling a story about how you saved a client’s project at the last minute.
You went in, took the responsibility and made sure everyone knew what to do.
This is great! This is what the interviewer wants to know.
However, you don’t need to:
- Go deep into how you found the customer in the first place.
- Describe your entire business relationship with them from beginning to end.
- Describe all their background and explain why you are such good friends with the client.
As we mentioned earlier, your answer should be relevant and direct to the topic.
Therefore, when talking about the situation, try to summarize the composition of your story in just 1-2 sentences.
4) Show Your Work
Finally, it’s time to brag a little.
Don’t be afraid to go out and show how you’ve made a difference. Be sure to specify the following:
- What impact did your actions have on your department / company?
- What were the EXACT results? Use numbers and data to back up.
- What have you learned from experience?
No one will be satisfied if an interview with a dull ending like “Yes, then, we finished the project on time and everyone lived happily ever after”
See how boring that sounds?
Even if the ending of your story isn’t that surprising, you can at least tell what you have learned.
Star Interview Questions and Answers (+9 Examples)
Following the STAR method, your answer will depend on the specific behavioral interview question asked.
That’s why we’ll give you 9 more common behavioral interview questions (with sample answers corresponding to them) to help you prepare!
The questions we will cover include:
- What is your biggest success?
- How do you set and reach personal goals when under pressure?
- Have you ever had a conflict or disagreement with a colleague? What happened and how did you solve it?
- How do you deal with unexpected difficulties? Give me an example
- Have you ever encountered a situation where the customer was at fault and you had to correct them? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time you failed. What happened and what did you learn?
- How do you deal with angry customers? Give me an example.
- Can you talk about a time you went above and beyond to deliver the perfect customer experience?
- Can you give me an example of a goal you set but could not achieve? How did you handle this?
Now, let’s dig right in!
1) What is your greatest achievement?
Q – “When I became the manager of Cafe X, we used to get more clients over the summer than ever before. It was almost always packed, and sometimes there were not enough servers to get the job done. And if someone got sick or couldn’t come out unexpectedly – things were even worse. ” How do I prepare for a Star interview?,#How do you answer the STAR method interview question?,#What is the best way to ace an interview?,#What are the STAR interview questions?,#What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer?,#What are your weaknesses?,#How can I impress the interviewer?,#What are some good signs you got the job?,#What you should not say in an interview?,#How do you close an interview?,#What are your strengths?,#How do you answer why should we hire you?,#Why do employers use the STAR method?,#What is the best answer for Tell me about yourself in interview?,#What are the top 10 interview questions?,#What are your strengths Star Method?,#How do you answer Where do you see yourself in 5 years?,#What are your strengths and weaknesses?,#Is a 20 minute interview a bad sign?,#Are long interviews a good sign?,#Is getting an interview a good sign?
T – “I needed to find a system so that we didn’t get overwhelmed for these 3+ months.”
A – “I realized we needed a better schedule to make sure we were prepared. The next summer, I had a very strict shift schedule and a reward system in case someone didn’t make it to their shift. If someone calls the patient, whoever fills them up for them, they would be rewarded with extra charges. And if there was absolutely nobody else, I would personally fill them in instead. ”
R – “Overall, the summer was pretty smooth with minimal crashes. We had NO negative reviews on TripAdvisor for the summer (whereas the summer before that, there were a few for slow service). ”
2) How do you set and accomplish personal goals when under pressure? Give me an example.
Q – “Of course! To give you some information, I received very limited financial aid during college and my parents were not able to help pay the rest of the tuition together. So while I was studying, I also had to work to pay to the university. I did many extracurricular activities (and internships whenever possible) to gain a lot of professional work experience. ”
T – “I realized that I needed to manage my time very efficiently to keep up with the workload. So I set up Google Calendar and bought a personal notebook for my daily tasks and responsibilities. ”
A – “Thanks to hard work and dedication, I have managed to balance studying, a part-time job and all extracurricular activities. Sure, sometimes it was pretty tiring, but at the end of each day I would always go and edit my calendar for the rest of the week. That way, I knew almost everything I had to do every day and didn’t miss any assignments or deadlines! ”
R – “In the end, I graduated with a 3.7 GPA, no student credits, and a personal design portfolio, which got me my first real job at Company X within a month of graduating.
3) Have you ever faced conflict or disagreement with a coworker? What happened and how did you resolve it?
Q – “Yes! During my internship at Company X, I had to work with my team and brainstorm ideas for acquiring new talent for a client. The client was a large chain of supermarkets located in a very rural area, so they struggled to find new talent. ”
T – “Basically, our task was to meet daily, brainstorm and finally decide on 3 great ideas. After a few meetings we had SOME ideas, but none were very exceptional. Management wanted something that they could offer the client with confidence (this will definitely bring results for them).
Some of my teammates wanted to give up, “Well, here are our ideas, we have nothing else!” and it will end with it. But me and another teammate wanted to work a little more on this and find something that would work.
There was a lot of back and forth from there, tensions were high, and the team continued to shut down all the ideas we suggested. The deadline was close and he had to find a way to move forward. ”
A – “So, I thought a little bit and realized that if we keep going like this we’ll be deadlocked forever. They didn’t agree with our approach and we disagreed with theirs. So we decided to bring in a neutral third party here with no emotional investment.
We then had a longer meeting with no time constraints (so we could get everything done in one meeting as soon as possible), where we looked at each idea individually and the third party acted as a kind of mediator. When someone suggested something, they had to support it with as much truth as possible, otherwise it doesn’t count. ”
R – “This really helped bring something new to the table. The “mediator” helped clear all bad ideas and instill new energy into the team.
In the end, we came up with completely original ideas, and that was something we all agreed on. We finished the meeting approximately. 2 hours and the management had 3 great ideas to present to the client. The client implemented one of the ideas and eventually resulted in 3 new hires. ”
4) How do you handle unexpected challenges? Give me an example
Q – “Once while preparing a presentation at a conference for Company X, one of our guest speakers had to cancel unexpectedly due to an emergency. We only learned a few hours before the event and now there was a 1 hour gap in our schedule to fix. ”
T – “So, we didn’t have much time and somehow we had to fill the time frame for the event to continue.”
A – “As one of the main event organizers and community managers at the company, I have decided to take the initiative. Instead of a guest speaker, I wanted to present our CEO as a speaker instead – it was definitely a possibility because he was also working behind the scenes. I personally spent an hour working with him one on one, trying to turn his ten years of experience into a presentation. With 30 minutes to spare, everything was ready to go and all that was left was to present. ”
R – “From the 1 hour interval, the conversation lasted about 45 minutes, and for the remainder of the 15 minutes we got some questions from the audience. Everything went well after that and most of the audience loved the presentation. ”
5) Have you ever been in a situation when the client was wrong, and you had to correct them? Give me an example.
Q – “Yes, this happens very often.
I can think of an example that happened during my first job as a recruiter. I had sent a candidate to a client and the hiring manager rejected him based solely on his CV. They said the candidate was too young for the position and had no experience with X, Y, and Z. ”
T – “I reviewed my resume and grades several times and I was 100% sure it was the customer’s fault – the candidate fits exactly the job posting they gave me. How do I prepare for a Star interview?,#How do you answer the STAR method interview question?,#What is the best way to ace an interview?,#What are the STAR interview questions?,#What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer?,#What are your weaknesses?,#How can I impress the interviewer?,#What are some good signs you got the job?,#What you should not say in an interview?,#How do you close an interview?,#What are your strengths?,#How do you answer why should we hire you?,#Why do employers use the STAR method?,#What is the best answer for Tell me about yourself in interview?,#What are the top 10 interview questions?,#What are your strengths Star Method?,#How do you answer Where do you see yourself in 5 years?,#What are your strengths and weaknesses?,#Is a 20 minute interview a bad sign?,#Are long interviews a good sign?,#Is getting an interview a good sign?
So I had to somehow let them know without seeming to be telling them how to do their job. ”
A – “I contacted my candidate, got precise and comprehensive information about his experiences with X, Y and Z, wrote all of them in an e-mail and clearly explained to our client’s recruitment manager in a very calm and professional tone as my candidate actually has experience in all the areas mentioned. , proven by this and this project, etc. I asked him to review his application. ”
R – “He answered, acknowledging that the candidate actually had the necessary experience and admitted that there was a mistake on his part. That’s why they invited the candidate for an interview. He wasn’t cast for that role, but at least we gave him a chance. ”
6) Tell me about a time you failed. What happened and what did you learn?
Q – “During my last job I was managing the web development team responsible for setting up an online e-commerce store for one of our customers. Looking back, I was very ambitious about the project and over promised the rate of return for the website. Since it seemed like a very cookie cutter project at the time, I told them we would finish it in 2 months. However, about 2 weeks into the project, we realized that we were at least a month behind, as we would have to code a lot of things that we thought were open source or sold as packaged add-ons. ”
T – “So I had to inform them about the problem, give them a current deadline for our team, and fix my mistake.”
C – “After the meeting, they showed understanding, but they were not very happy. Then I brought our web developers together and the next day I started working hard on the project. We focused 100% of our time on solving the problem, outsourcing some of the small tasks to save time, and fix everything before the deadline. ”
R – “In the end, their site was successful and I learned a valuable lesson in managing expectations. I noticed that sometimes it is better to undertake and overstate, and I learned how to better set and manage deadlines for my team. ”
7) How do you handle angry customers? Give me an example.
Q – “I always try to stay calm and pack. Recently, while serving a customer behind the counter, a customer yelled at me that I was not eligible for a refund. The customer’s voice was getting louder and a big line started to form behind him. ”
T – “I had to stay calm, move the conflict elsewhere and make sure other customers could make their purchases.”
A – “I realized that the best thing to do is to move the situation away from the safe. I asked my colleague to take my place so that I could meet the client one-on-one and explain the situation better. I explained that I could understand the disappointment, but I made it clear that sales items cannot be returned despite having an invoice. ”
R – “Finally he started to calm down and accepted my explanation. Although he is still not satisfied with it, I managed to sort out the situation before I did another incident. I calmly and empathically believe that most (if not all) such situations can be resolved. ”
8) Can you tell me about a time when you went above and beyond to deliver excellent customer experience?
Q – “While working for Company X, we were preparing a video presentation for a client when I found out that someone on his team was deaf. The presentation was due in the morning the next day and I was the only person left in the office after 5 PM. ”
T – “I realized there was only one solution, and it was for me to stay behind in the evenings and add the subtitles myself.”
A – “It took a few hours and around 20:00, I finished. Next, I inform our team about the update. ”
R – “Finally, the client enjoyed the presentation. They were impressed (and surprised) by our attention to detail, and soon we turned them off. ”
9) Can you give me an example of a goal you set, but couldn’t meet? How did you handle it?
Q – “In my job a month ago, we decided to focus most of our marketing efforts on growing our blog. I was tasked by the CMO with taking over the blog and creating content. The problem was, I had ZERO experience with the content, but we didn’t have anyone else to own the channel. ”
T – “I had to write a total of 5 articles that month, create social media posts for them and work to promote them.”
A – “In the middle of the month I realized I couldn’t write. Nothing. It wasn’t for me and I had NOTHING to show me for the month to work. Here’s what I did is: I told the CMO the situation and we found an alternative solution. as a content strategist. ”
R – “Overall, we hired a content writer who managed to roll out 4 articles before the deadline. I’ve worked hand-in-hand with them to make sure their posts are brand-specific, and I’ve also created and promoted social posts for them. Overall, the articles performed pretty well, even bringing us a few new leads. ”
Yes, interviews can be pretty scary.
With the STAR method, however, you’ll have much more chances to beat them!
Now let’s summarize everything we learned:
- To answer behavioral interview questions, you need to provide real-life examples and stories. You need to follow the STAR method to answer correctly.
- As a reminder, the abbreviation means: S – Status, T – Task, A – Action, R – Results.
- Following the format is very simple. Make sure your answers are relevant, provide appropriate context, describe your thought process, and finally include real facts and figures.
- And for sample answers, you can always refer to the examples above for some inspiration.
Are you looking for more ways to prepare for the job interview and be successful? Then look no further than the Novorésumé career blog for the latest career advice and other actionable guides!