What Is the STAR Method of Behavioral Interviewing?

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Answering behavioral interview questions is easy when you are familiar with the STAR method. Practice and prepare, and it will become second nature.



In today’s world, hiring managers and recruiters must sort through hundreds of resumes in order to find the perfect candidate for the job, and this is increasingly difficult to do. To simplify the process, many are turning to behavioral interviewing to learn more about candidates.

Behavioral interviewing focuses on how you have handled tough situations in the past. Many interviewers believe that your previous actions accurately predict how you will handle these situations in the future. They want to see that you’ve developed the soft skills needed for the job over a lifetime of professional, educational and personal experience. In order to answer these questions successfully, candidates should turn to the STAR method of behavioral interviewing.

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What Is the STAR Method?



When broken down into individual parts, the STAR method is very simple to use. There are three steps:

• Situation or Task — clearly define a situation or problem you were faced with
• Action — describe the action you took to fix the problem
• Result — highlight the positive results that came from the actions you took

The STAR method allows you to break down your previous experiences into 60- to 90-second stories that are relevant to the job you are applying for. It allows you to come prepared with relevant, well-prepared examples from your past that are applicable to your future. The STAR method also allows you to keep the focus where it belongs — on your skills and abilities.

What Types of Questions Can I Expect?

Behavioral interview questions are very different than traditional interview questions, and it’s almost impossible to pick out exactly which ones will be used for each interview. Most focus on conflict resolution, time management, or leadership. You can narrow down your options with a quick look at the job description, which should highlight the soft skills the company is looking for in a viable candidate. The behavioral interview questions are likely to revolve around those abilities.

Most behavioral interview questions will focus on the following themes:

• Handling conflict
• Problem solving
• Biggest failures
• Leadership
• Teamwork

While you can’t predict exactly what questions you will be asked, you can come prepared with relevant examples for each category. Tailor your answers using the STAR method to successfully define why you have the skills needed to do the job right.

Examples of the STAR Method:

In order to help you better understand how to use the STAR method to answer behavioral interviewing questions, we’ve put together some examples.

Q: How have you dealt with criticism in the past? Give us an example.

At a previous job, I had a supervisor who was unhappy with some work I had done. Rather than approach me about it privately, she made negative remarks about me in front of my co-workers. While I was upset, I held my tongue until I could ask her to speak with me privately about it. During our conversation, we discovered that another manager had dropped the ball on a task, and we were both left making up for it. We discussed the issue and came to a conclusion regarding the best way to fix it. After that, I learned that it’s never a good idea to get upset until you have all the facts, particularly with a supervisor or manager.Â

In this example, the candidate clearly defines the situation (a supervisor who was overly critical in front of peers), describes the action taken (a private meeting between the two), and the result (the issue was fixed, the real culprit was identified, and a lesson was learned). This example highlights how the STAR method can keep an answer right on track and to the point.

Q: How do you encourage others to get along? Give me an example.

I was given the task of heading up a project that our team had to work together to complete. I had two co-workers who didn’t care for each other, and both preferred to work alone rather than together, which meant the project would take longer to complete. When I presented data that showed we could wrap up several hours earlier if we worked together, they determined that it would be beneficial to get over their differences. We finished the project several hours ahead of schedule.Â

These are just a few examples of how you can use the STAR method to outline and successfully answer behavioral interviewing questions. With succinct, simple answers to important questions, you are more likely to get the job.

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