STAR Method – How to Answer Interview Questions the Right Way

STAR Method – How to Answer Interview Questions the Right Way

STAR is a method that is commonly used by candidates to help them to prepare for an interview. This method can be used to help layout and answer interview questions that require examples in a clear, meaningful and complete way.

Of course, you’re unlikely to know the exact questions that you’re going to be asked during the interview, but you can still prepare by thinking of some really powerful examples from your career that best demonstrate your ability to carry out tasks relating to the job role in which you’re applying or demonstrate the behaviours required. It is a good idea to think of examples relating to both.

Why is it important to have a strategy in place for your interview preparation?

When answering interview questions, you’ll want to be able to give full answers, but concisely, so that the important details don’t get missed within long, drawn-out answers. When put on the spot, it may be difficult to think of really great examples, let alone be able to remember all the details relating to them. Your mind can go blank – it’s happened to us all! Using the STAR method can help you with this, note your answers down and take them along to the interview with you to act as a prompt – this will also show the interviewers that you have prepared for your time with them. Remember, an interview isn’t a memory test, and it’s absolutely fine to both take, and refer to, your preparation notes when answering a question.

The STAR Method

To put the STAR method into practice, start by thinking of an example to share with the interviewers, and then use the following points to help you describe it:

S – Situation

In this section, talk about the situation itself. Describe the context in which you were working, or the challenge you were facing.

T – Task

In this section talk about the tasks which needed to be completed in order to resolve or address the situation. What were you asked to do, or what did you decide to do?

A – Action

In this section talk about what your responsibility was in completing the tasks. Focus on the part you played specifically and how you contributed, rather than what your team or colleagues did.

R – Result

In this section, talk about what the outcome was, and what you achieved.

Some people also add an additional “R” at the end for Reflection. Here, you could talk about what you felt went well, and if there would be anything you would change next time.

 

 

Examples of STAR answers

Here are a couple of scenarios showing how the STAR method can be used.

Scenario 1

Question: Please give me an example of a time where you have dealt with an unhappy customer or client, and how you handled the situation.

S – Situation

When working in the Customer Services Team, I took a call from a customer who was unhappy with the product they had received. It had arrived damaged, which was upsetting for the customer as they had hoped to give it as a gift to a relative.

T – Task

I talked to the customer about their order and apologised for it arriving damaged. I asked when they were hoping to give the gift and what they would like to happen next. They explained that they would still really love to give the gift and therefore would like a replacement product. They needed it by the weekend.

I, therefore, needed to reorder the product for the customer and organise for it to arrive in time for them to gift it to their relative.

A – Action

I checked our stock levels, which showed that we had some available. I then checked with my line manager that it would be ok to send this out by express delivery, as an apology to the customer, and to ensure it arrived on time. He agreed to this.

I then organised for the product to be sent out to the customer.

R – Result

The customer was really happy with the service they received and also left me a great review for how I’d helped them.

Scenario 2

Question: Please give me an example of a time when you have researched a product or service and made recommendations based on your findings.

S – Situation

I recently worked for a small business that wanted a way of managing contact with their current and potential clients.

T – Task

I was asked by my line manager to research Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and make a recommendation as to how we could take this forward.

A – Action

Firstly, I met with my manager to establish the budget and agree on the key features of the system that needed to be. I then used this to draw up a specification in order to keep my research focused.

Next, I began to research systems online and set up 6 demos with potential system providers. I also went along to a Technology Exhibition to gain perspective on what the wider market could offer and to see lots of systems in one place. In addition, I spoke to my contacts in other businesses to see what systems they used and what they thought of them.

Once my research was complete, I produced a report containing my findings. Within this report, I made a recommendation to invite 3 system providers to give full demos to us and have a more formal discussion of our needs.

R – Result

Following the meetings with my recommended providers, we selected a company to work with. I managed a small Project Team to implement the system into the business which has now been in place for 3 months. So far, it’s working well and is giving a much clearer picture of the contact we have with our clients. It also helps us to look more professional as we can easily see what discussions have previously taken place.

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