How to be a star candidate using the STAR interview method


The war for talent is here – and it has been for the past few years actually! You know very well that when you apply for a job, the chances to get the first call back are quite hard, no matter how well you fit the role or what perception you personally have on why you’d be a great match. But let’s consider you make it and get the very much wanted invitation to start the interview process. How can you start preparing?


The first thing you should do is research the company. Look online, identify the key members of the team, check the role and responsibilities, compare your profile to similar ones that you’d work within the same team.


And then, invest some time to get ready for the interview.


You will most likely start with an intro call with the hiring manager. Don’t be stressed, just act as if you were having a friendly chat with a colleague. Be real, authentic – and feel confident!


As the interview moves forward, the interviewer will go through several questions to identify that you are a good match for the role, based on your past experiences and the competencies you would bring if you were hired.


Don’t lose it! Keep your act together and try to organize your thoughts. You should be prepared to think fast to come up with relevant examples. Yes, these questions may seem hard, but there are tricks to get ready for that – so here comes the STAR interview method!


What Is the STAR Interview Method?

In order to understand what the STAR interview method is, we first need to be able to identify the behavioral interview questions. These questions ask candidates to share examples of relevant situations or how they acted in similar types of scenarios.

These questions can be easily recognized – they will most probably have an opening as the below:

  • Tell me about a time when…

  • Have you ever…

  • Give me an example of…

  • What have you done when…

  • Describe a time when…

You can easily get a sense of this method by initially breaking down the acronym:

  • Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example

  • Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.

  • Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.

  • Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

Keeping in mind all these components, you will find it much easier to deliver a clear, focused answer.




Below you will find some useful tips to answer these questions.

  1. Think of the correct example

Your answer should be relevant. Don’t share just any example in order to showcase your competencies, you should focus and deliver a situation that best describes what you were asked for.

Of course, you cannot know what you will be asked in advance, but you can prepare by thinking of:

  • Success stories

  • Difficult situations

Make sure you can easily share such stories and base your narration on the STAR framework. Don’t be afraid to ask for a minute to think – the interviewer does not expect you to come up with an answer straight away.

  1. Describe the Situation

When you have chosen the example you want to share, try to explain the scene as best as possible. Don’t go into too many details if it is not necessary to do so. Try to describe it in a way that the interviewer has the necessary details needed but not in excess.

Your goal here should be to keep things simple. Don’t go for long answers as you will probably get lost along the way, so remember to stay focused and to the point.

  1. Spotlight the Task

At this stage, you need to be able to describe what exactly your task in this case was. Try not to confuse it with the “action” – it happens quite often that candidates mix the task and the action, so pay extra attention to this step.

You should be able to explain what your responsibilities were in a particular scenario, what objectives you had, what your role was.

  1. Communicate your Action

So, you have described the scene and you have explained what your role was. Time to explain what exactly you did, what steps you took, and how you managed to achieve the goal or resolve the issue.

Don’t use vague answers and terms like “worked hard” for example. Go with the specifics. Share as much information as possible. Were there other people involved? Did you use any tools? What kind of planning was implemented? The interviewer would love to know all of this!

  1. Convey the Result

This is time to shine and explain how you managed to make a positive impact. In the previous step, you described the actions you took – now you need to share the results of these actions. Make sure that the result is positive at the end; the interviewer most likely does not want to hear a story about a time you failed. Having a problem or a challenge is natural but describing such a scenario while the end result appears to be a failure, will not get you through to the next step of the interview process.

Keep in mind that all the scenarios you will share should have a positive outcome – a success or a lesson learned.

Putting together all the puzzle pieces

Let’s see an example of a STAR interview:

Question:

  • “Tell me about a time when you had to implement a new system in order to improve the quality of your work.”

Your response:

  • Situation*: “In my previous role as a Full Cycle Recruiter, I was put in charge of transferring to a new ATS – on top of handling my daily tasks and work responsibilities.”*

  • Task*: “The goal was to successfully move all the existing records to the new ATS and deliver training to the relevant stakeholders (hiring managers).”*

  • Action*: “In order to do that, I had to manage my time; I blocked time on my calendar every day for 2 weeks, that I dedicated specifically to this project. During that time, I worked on transferring the records, together with the assistance of the Account Manager from the new ATS, and in parallel, I cleaned all the old data and updated the most recent records. Once the transfer has been completed and all records were updated, I created the training using specific tools and software so that I could then easily share them with the team.”*

  • Result*: “As a result, I managed to complete the project 4 days ahead of the deadline and eventually increased the candidate experience by 18% (data came from the monthly recruitment reports).”*

The STAR interview process for answering behavioral interview questions might seem a little intimidating at first. But if you practice it, it will come out naturally to you. Devote some time, get prepared, take notes, write down examples and split the 4 components for each case. You will soon feel confident and eventually, ace that interview!