We can all agree that job interview questions can be stressful. Some, more than the others.
If we were to rank them based on difficulty, behavioral questions would probably take spot #1 for most people.
If that’s the case for you as well, you’re going to love the STAR method. It’s a not-so-secret formula to answering behavioral questions (or STAR interview questions) the right way every single time.
And in this guide, we’re going to teach you all you need to know about it!
- What’s the STAR Method?
- Real-Life STAR Method Answer Example
- Complete List of STAR Interview Questions
- Behavioral Interview Question and Answer Examples
So, let’s not waste any time and start with:
What’s the STAR Method?
First things first, let’s discuss behavioral questions.
These questions inquire about situations and problems faced at work and help the interviewer understand how you handle them.
Behavioral questions always require you to tell a story of how you faced a specific situation at work, and how you dealt with it.
- So, tell me about a time when you handled conflict well.
- What is your greatest achievement?
If you’ve ever faced such interview questions at work, you’ll probably agree with us - coming up with an answer is far from easy, especially in the heat of the moment.
And that’s where the STAR method comes in!
STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
It’s the structure you need to follow in order to come up with a clear and concise answer to behavioral questions like the ones we mentioned above.
Situation - This is where you describe the situation and provide the interviewer with context
Task - What was your role in this situation? Explain what your duties were and what was expected of you at the time
Action - How did you carry out your task/s? Did you go out of your way to fulfill your duties or do more than you initially had to?
Result - This is the conclusion of your answer and story. Explain what results your actions had and if the situation was solved successfully or not. The use of numbers and data is a bonus.
STAR Method Answer Example
Now that we’ve got the theory all cleared up, let’s get down to practice & show you how the STAR method really works.
Let’s take one of the most common behavioral interview questions as an example:
“What is your greatest achievement?”
A good answer should look something like:
Situation - “Hmm… well, after graduation I worked for a year as an assistant to Company Y’s marketing director. We had a meeting with a potential client this one time and I was supposed to meet my boss straight to the location of the meeting. On my way there she called me and told me she was headed to the hospital as a family member of hers had had an accident.”
Task - “She asked me if I could carry on the presentation by myself and if not, I could cancel the meeting. I’d assisted my boss while she made the presentation, but I wasn’t prepared to deliver it. I was only supposed to help with setting up the place and carry the documents.”
Action - “Nevertheless, I like a challenge and I was confident I could do it so I agreed to hold the meeting.”
Result - “The presentation not only went well, but the client actually hired our company. My boss was more than happy. She gave me a raise and eventually became more of a mentor than a boss.”
- If you want a fully detailed guide with tips and examples on the STAR method, check out this article.
19+ STAR Method Interview Questions
Behavioral questions, a.k.a. questions that have to be answered by using the STAR method, are easy to spot.
They ask you to tell a story of a work situation, how you reacted to it, and help the interviewer predict how you might react to similar situations in the future.
The most common questions are:
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenging situation. How did you solve it?
- Do you usually set goals at work? If yes, could you give me an example of a goal you had and how you achieved it?
- Give me an example of a time you made a mistake at work.
- Have you ever faced conflict with a coworker? How did you resolve the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you handled the pressure well.
- Was there a time when you had to be very strategic in order to meet a goal?
- Give me an example of a situation when you showed initiative and took charge of a situation.
- Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your duties for a job or task.
- Did you ever have to correct one of your superiors when they were wrong? How did you approach that situation?
- Have you ever had to work under a tight deadline?
- How do you deal with coworkers that don’t cooperate or can’t contribute enough?
- Tell me about a time when a client was asking for the impossible. How did you explain and communicate this to them?
- Give me an example of a time when you didn’t meet a client’s expectations. How did you deal with the situation?
- Is there a situation you think you could’ve handled better or differently?
- How do you adapt to sudden changes in the workplace? Could you give me an example?
- What was the first job you ever had? Do you remember how you adapted and learned the ropes?
- Tell me about a time when you had to think on your feet in order to deal with a situation.
- Sometimes employers put too much on their employees’ plates. Was there a time when you were overwhelmed with work? How did you handle the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you had the liberty to be creative with your work. Was it exciting or difficult for you?
- Give me an example of a time when you and your team had opposing views on an issue. How did you persuade them to go with your decision?
3 STAR Method Sample Questions & Answers
#1. Have you ever faced conflict with a coworker? How did you resolve the situation?
S - “I’m usually a very easy-going employee and get along with most of my coworkers. There was this one time though, when I was working for Company Y. At the time they had just purchased new software for the company.”
T - “I was in charge of introducing it to my coworkers since I had previous experience with it. The CEO however, also brought in someone from the software company to assist with the transition as well. We had to cooperate on this task and well.. the guy wasn’t too thrilled about the idea. He often interrupted me whenever I was explaining something, and sometimes didn’t even invite me to some of the training we were supposed to organize together. “
A - “I decided to approach him and suggested we split the responsibilities. He would handle the theoretical part of the training (introduction to how it works), and I’d explain the practical stuff (as in, how we can implement the software for our business case).”
R - “He agreed, and the transition went smoothly since then. Took us around a week and a half to get the entire team on board and productive with the new tool.”
#2. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your duties for a job or task.
S - “During my time as a real estate agent at Y Company, we got one of the biggest listings the company had ever had. A $5M house, newly built, ready to go out in the market.”
T - “All agents were allowed to work on selling the property since we only had a 3-month deadline by the owner.”
A - “I decided I’d add something new to the website marketing of the house: a virtual tour. I felt like only photos weren’t enough for this property. I rented a 360-degree camera, stayed up watching tutorials, and taught myself how to create the tour.”
R - “When I presented it to management, they were thrilled. They put up the tour on the website and also asked the agents to send it out to their lists of clients. The person who ended up buying the house was in Europe at the time and didn’t even come see the house in Vancouver before purchasing it. His agent did. He said his client felt like he’d already been in the house because of the tour and had no doubts about purchasing it.”
#3. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work
S - “The store I was working for would be opening a new location soon and they offered me the position of manager there.”
T - “That meant I was also in charge of monitoring the work until the store opened. I ordered the clothing shipments, trained the new employees, and organized the inauguration event. One hour before the event, the last shipment of boxes hadn’t arrived yet. The clothes the mannequins had to wear were in those boxes.”
A - “I called the delivery company and they said the boxes had already been shipped...to the other location of the store...across the city. I’d given them the wrong address. There was absolutely no time for those boxes to arrive in time at the store.”
R - “The mannequins were dressed in other clothes, none of them belonging to the new collection. I explained the situation to my superiors. They weren’t very happy about it of course, but they acknowledged that it was a human mistake and it could happen to anyone.”
Now, let’s go over the essentials one more time:
- Behavioral interview questions ask you to give an example of how you’ve handled a specific situation at work. They help the interviewer predict how you might react to similar scenarios in the future.
- The STAR method is a structure that you can follow in order to answer behavioral questions in a concise way.
- The STAR acronym stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result.
We hope this article made answering those tough questions not-so-tough.
Now, all that’s left is to go and ace that upcoming interview!