How To Use The STAR Method In An Interview

Do you struggle when asked questions in an interview such as “tell me about a time when..” or “describe a situation when..”?  Do you find interview questions a source of anxiety and always struggle to answer them effectively? Unfortunately, almost every interview will include these kinds of situational questions and answering them incorrectly could impact your chance of interview success.

However, do not fear! There is a method called the STAR technique which is a fantastic way of answering these questions effectively and concisely whilst linking your answer back to what you achieved in the situation. In this article, we will explain what the STAR technique is, give some examples of typical STAR questions to look out for and finally give a model answer using the STAR technique.

What Does STAR Stand For?

  • The S in STAR stands for Situation. Here you begin your answer by describing the situation you were in at the time of your example.
  • T stands for Task. After describing the situation you were in, it is time to explain the task you undertook or the problem you faced.
  • A stands for Action. Next it is time to describe the actions you took in that situation to complete the task.
  • R stands for Result. Here you summarise the positive results of your actions for example a percentage growth in something (eg 10% increase in sales) or a good review. There are many ways you can demonstrate your success in the situation.

Examples of STAR Questions You Could Be Asked

You should easily be able to tell when a question is asked by the interviewer that requires a STAR technique answer. These questions usually begin with “describe a time when” or “can you give me an example of”. Some good examples are listed below to help you prepare:

  • Describe a time when you provided great customer service.
  • Can you give an example of a time you experienced a difficult customer. How did you overcome the confrontation?
  • Describe a situation where you were faced with a problem and the steps you took to overcome it?
  • Can you explain a time where you lead a team through a difficult situation?
  • Tell me about a time where you had to undertake a difficult project at work.
  • Tell me about a time where you made a mistake at work and how you resolved it?

Example of a STAR Method Answer

Now that the STAR method has been explained and some example questions have been listed, it is time to show you how you can answer one of the example questions using the STAR method.

In order to answer the “Describe a time when you provided great customer service” question, you should break it down into sections using the STAR method as follows.

  1. Situation – “When I worked at my last role at Blue Customer Services, I had a customer that called in to complain about an issue with her product. They were very angry and confrontational on the phone.”
  2. Task – “It was my job in this role to address all client complaints and do my best to resolve these issues by finding a solution myself by using my initiative. I really needed to keep this client happy, retain their business and diffuse the situation.”
  3. Action – “To solve the clients issue I spent extensive time listening to their complaint and truly understanding how I could solve the problem by asking open-ended questions. The client had threatened to cancel her contract with us due to the issue.  I took time to listen and really built rapport with the customer whilst coming up with a tailored solution to suit their needs.”
  4. Result – say “My actions resulted in the client continuing with their phone contract that that they threatened to cancel due to the rapport I had built with them. They actually even left me a five-star review online where they thanked me personally for my help. I also gave them a discount code as a thank you that they could give to a friend, and they referred their friend to the service. This all resulted in a happy customer and new business for the company.

Hopefully this article helped you learn about what the STAR method is and how to answer STAR questions effectively. Why not check out our jobs page so that you can put the STAR method into practice in an interview.