Summary Definition: A structured method of answering interview questions about a candidate’s probable behavior in a hypothetical or past scenario.
The STAR Method is a type of interview response technique used to answer behavioral questions (e.g., “How do you handle setbacks at work?”). It helps candidates give clear, concise responses during the interview, thus demonstrating their problem-solving skills and achievements.
The STAR acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Each element is a step a candidate can use when giving their response during the interview.
Candidates should start their response by giving context to the interviewer to better describe the situation that was faced. This should include any relevant details, like the former employer’s industry, the candidate’s job at the time, and any challenges the candidate faced.
Next, the candidate should describe their role or responsibility in that specific situation and what they were supposed to achieve. Using specific details will help the interviewer understand the scope of the candidate’s involvement and how their actions contributed to the eventual results.
This is where the candidate explains the course of action they took to handle the situation. They should give as many details as possible about their decision-making process, reasoning, applied skills, and actual contributions.
Finally, candidates should reveal the outcomes that occurred because of their actions. It’s important to provide as many quantifiable and measurable details in this part of the response, as it helps the interviewer gauge the level of impact the candidate made. This, in turn, helps demonstrate the candidate’s value and capabilities.
Another topic candidates can include here is any lessons they learned for future challenges. This can be based on things that went well or poorly but should demonstrate their ability to glean constructive takeaways and apply them elsewhere.
Part of the STAR Method’s utility is how it can help candidates prepare for interview questions before the interview even begins. Like the method itself, there are a few steps candidates can do ahead of time to feel better prepared when asked a behavioral question:
Candidates can also try researching commonly asked behavioral questions and adapting them to the job description to further anticipate what the interviewer may ask, or any follow-up questions they may have.
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