Interview Tips

Use The STAR Method and Nail Your Next Job Interview!

By: JobGet
Apr 15, 2020 • 8 min read

Preparing For an Upcoming Job Interview? Use The STAR Method and Land The Job.

When it comes to preparing for an upcoming interview, there are countless techniques you can refer to. This can quickly become overwhelming, and extra stress is not helpful during the job search process. In this blog, we will talk about the STAR method, which will simplify your interview prep. This technique is easy to remember, simple to understand, and can be used when applying for a job in any industry. If you want to catch the recruiter’s attention and stand out from the applicant pool during your next interview, keep reading! The STAR method is a great way to nail your interview and identify yourself as a confident and competent applicant for hire.

STAR method

What Is The STAR Method?

The STAR technique is a method that helps organize your responses to interview questions by providing concrete examples. The use of this technique shows that you have the experience and skill set necessary for achieving success in the position you’re applying for. The STAR method offers an easy to follow structure any candidate can refer to when asked to elaborate on a previous job experience. We can guarantee that your interviewer will ask questions regarding the challenges you’ve faced in the workplace, and you’ll need solid examples to back up your statements!

STAR comes from S-situation, T-task, A-action, R-result

Situation – a situation at work or school that reflects upon the question being asked by the interviewer.

Task – the tasks involved that you undertook to understand the situation and achieve your desired result.

Action – the actions you took to move forward in the situation.

Result – the end result of the situation! Make sure to relate this back to the initial question.

The STAR method can be especially useful when participating in competency or behavior-based interviews. When the recruiter asks for examples of situations that you have already experienced professionally, the STAR method can structure your responses by providing concrete and elaborate examples. This method also helps you think on your feet since you’ll follow the acronym to help you out. The interviewer wants to predict how you might behave in their workplace culture if you are hired. Use the STAR technique to elaborate on your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and credibility. Remember, your interview is all about YOU! So make sure to highlight yourself in the best possible way.

Why should I use the STAR method in my interview?

The STAR method is an awesome way for you to prepare for an interview. As we all know, an interviewer can easily catch you off guard with tricky questions. However, you won’t ever be caught off guard when you know how to quickly prepare an answer to each of their questions! Even when you don’t have a response prepared for a specific question, using the STAR technique will allow you to think about a situation that helps answer the question. The best part is, you can continue thinking about how to answer the question while you are answering it!

One of the main benefits of using the STAR method is that it becomes a story you tell the interviewer. People love stories, and the interviewer is more likely to remember your response in a positive way. Stories also help people to process the information quickly and efficiently. By telling a story, you are setting yourself up to stand out during your interview. You will also feel more confident in the process of your interview, knowing that you are not coming up with an answer on the fly, but telling a story that really happened!

When Will I Use This Method During My Interview?

This is another very valid question you might be asking yourself. The truth is, you can utilize the STAR method when responding to any question you are asked during the interview! The STAR method helps the applicant to craft a cohesive, concrete, and understandable example to support their responses to interview questions. For example, everyone faces stressful situations at some point during their career. The employer doesn’t care if you encountered these challenges, rather, they are paying attention to how you handled these hurdles and came out on top. Even if you were not successful in a certain situation, you can still put a positive spin on your response using the STAR method. This technique will help you be quick on your feet, which will boost your confidence and impress your potential employer.

STAR method

Structure Your Answers Using The STAR Method

To understand how to structure your responses using the STAR technique, let’s consider the question: “How do you deal with conflicts at work ?” This is a common interview question that you will likely face when meeting with an employer. They want to understand how you overcome challenges and handle disagreements in the workplace. This is an important part of being a team player, so make sure to speak highly of yourself here!

To answer, you must follow the four steps of the technique:

1.     Situation

First, think of a situation that comes to mind when you think of “conflict.” Describe a situation in which you experienced conflict with colleagues, as asked by the interviewer. Be specific and provide details, but try to focus on the situation as a whole instead of the individuals who were involved. Thinking about a specific situation at work will jog your memory and help you to frame your answer.

If your career is just beginning, you can use examples from situations that occurred in school or in volunteer work. You can even pull examples from clubs or organizations you have been involved with over the years. Try to think of a situation with a positive outcome that had a lasting impact on you.

Example to Explain the Situation:

Last year, my team and I were preparing for the annual Sales Competition. I was nominated as team leader, and I took this responsibility very seriously. Unfortunately, one of our team members was not pulling their weight. They would be absent at team meetings, be difficult to contact over the phone, and produce poor quality work.

2.     Task

The second step is to identify a task that you had control over that would help the situation. Situation – Task! There should be an actionable item that you could take to positively move the situation, so think about it for a minute! You can also identify a specific task at hand that was the source of disagreement. Elaborate on the expectations and requirements that the task demanded. Be sure to go into detail here!

You can also describe the purpose of your role, specifically during this step. Whether you were the team leader or simply a supporting member, you have an important part in the situation’s outcome! Explain how you led or supported your team to achieve success and accomplish the task at hand.

Example of the Task:

First, I identified the tasks that the underperforming individual was responsible for. I knew there was a possibility that the team could fall behind on these deliverables, so I wanted to make them a top priority. I used the assigned tasks to help me craft a performance improvement plan, with detailed steps to help the individual complete each deliverable.

3.     Action

Next comes action. In this next step, you need to describe what actions you took to resolve the conflict. Be clear and concise, and try to keep emotions out of your response. Another component to remember is to keep the response focused on the action you took to arrive at a solution – not the other person or people involved.  The purpose of the interview is to talk about you and your behavior in this situation! This is one of the most important steps of the STAR method during your interview because your actions will demonstrate how you behaved in this situation and will likely indicate your future performance.

If you faced challenges along the way before arriving at a solution, please talk about how you overcame these hurdles. The path to success is very rarely linear. So, explaining roadblocks that you overcame will only help prove your case! It shows that you are able to take action and don’t give up on projects when things get tough. Resiliency is a great skill to have that will be attractive to any employer!

Example of an Action Explanation:

I knew that the stakes were very high for this Sales Competition, and I didn’t want one weak link to negatively affect the entire group. So, I sat down with our underperforming team members and discussed the performance improvement plan I created. I asked for feedback, and we tweaked the plan so that it was attainable for this individual. We came up with a plan that worked for the whole team, which helped everyone feel supported.

4.     Result

The fourth and final step is to describe the results you achieved by taking the actions you have already described. You should complete the story and, preferably, quote real data and results. Talk about who was impacted and how they were impacted. Make sure to keep it positive! Mention any feedback you have received and what you have learned from it. Explore how you apply this feedback to current projects you are involved with.

Another important note is to remember that even if there was a situation that did not have a positive outcome, you could still positively frame your experience. From each negative experience we face, there is always a positive lesson to pull from it. This is what the employer wants to hear about! They want to know how your past challenges have shaped who you are as an employee and how you overcome hurdles. We’ll outline an example of both a positive outcome and a negative one below!

Example 1 (Positive Outcome):

Our group was very satisfied with the final outcome. After implementing the performance improvement plan for our underperforming individuals, I did everything I could to support their success. In the end, our team performed very successfully, achieving the second-best result out of all the teams. We reached 20 new leads and 5 deals in just 2 weeks.

Example 2 (Not-So-Positive Outcome):

Our group did the best to accommodate a team member who didn’t work together with us. At the end of the competition, we did end up falling behind the other teams. However, it was a great learning experience for me. I did what I knew how to do at the time, and I learned a lot about working with others during this experience! Even though we didn’t accomplish what we hoped, dealing with this kind of conflict in the workplace taught me how to move forward and continue working towards goals, even in the face of a difficult situation.

Although these two examples had different outcomes, they are both outstanding responses to this question!

STAR method

Crafting an Excellent Final Response

Now that you know how to utilize the STAR technique when answering interview questions let’s put it all together with another example. Let’s say that the interviewer asks you, “Tell me about a time you handled a stressful situation at work.” This is another common question you may face, as stress management is crucial in the workplace. The employer wants to understand how you will tackle stress and pressure if hired. Will you sink, or will you soar!?

Keep in mind, the power of your response is not dependent on the outcome of the situation. It is all about how you frame the situation and have used it as a lesson to improve your work practices in the future. Your potential employer is looking for potential, not perfection! Remind yourself of this as often as you can, especially before you walk through the doors to your interview.

Here is an example of a response using the STAR technique:

Situation- The holidays were always a hectic time for my team at my previous position. Shipments were arriving every day, and with the holidays, it seemed like everyone was coming in to purchase products. The store was always packed with customers, and employees were getting very stressed. With sicknesses and holidays, we were understaffed as employees were taking time off! It seemed we were really understaffed and didn’t have enough time or energy to complete all of the necessary tasks.

Task- We needed to have the shelves stocked with essential holiday items such as turkey, ham, rolls, eggs, milk, and butter. However, it was difficult to keep up with the high because many of our staff took time off. I wanted my team to enjoy time off during the holidays, but I also wanted to ensure that our customers had everything they need to cook festive meals. It was really important to prioritize these essential tasks in this situation.

Action-  I knew that there was a better way that we could accomplish some of these tasks. With my supervisor’s help, I crafted a new schedule that ensures every 3 days, each employee would have a day off to relax. The schedule helped provide a way for all employees to feel supported in their work by not being understaffed and allowing them appropriate time off!

Result- This new schedule helped with a lot of different things. It helped the supervisors feel like things were under control and less stressful. It also helped the employees feel more supported. They could show up for their shifts on a more regular schedule and not miss out on important holidays! This was important to me because I value work-life balance and ensuring each employee feels appreciated and valued.

You can use this outline above as a template when crafting your own responses! Be sure to be as detailed as possible to give your potential employer a complete outline of the situation. Make it feel like you’re telling a story! This will help your interview feel more natural, conversational, and less forced. The more comfortable the interview feels, the more positive your stories will come across as. So, build up your confidence before you walk into the interview, and be your best self!

Use These Steps to Become an Interview STAR!

So, next time you are preparing for a job interview, look no further than the STAR method! This technique will help you pull meaningful examples from your experiences on the fly. You’ll be able to articulate multi-dimensional, detailed, and meaningful stories from your past positions. You will be identified as a candidate who can think on their feet and has the skills to succeed in the position. These are attributes that will help you stand out in the applicant pool as a front runner! You’ll be an interview star in no time. If you try this method during your next interview, connect with us and let us know how it went on our social media pages!

More to Explore:

How To Handle Career Regret – Here 

How To Practice Self-Care Daily – Here 

Overcoming Holiday Blues in 2020 – Here 

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