The STAR format is a technique used in interviews to help you to provide a clear and concise answer to questions about past workplace experiences. It can be used in all kinds of interviews, from face to face interviews to phone interviews. A STAR interview question is formed in a way that allows the interviewer to explore your skills, experience and personal qualities. This type of interviewing technique can be used for any position that requires more than just a yes or no answer, which is why the STAR format is so widely used.
How Does the STAR Interview Format Work?
STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. It is a useful framework for giving clear and concise answers to questions, which can be hugely beneficial if you struggle to convey information during an interview, or you are prone to rambling. There is no denying that interviews can be stressful and anxiety inducing, but the STAR format can help to keep your answers clear and to the point.
The interviewer will start by asking you to describe a situation in which you were required to take some sort of action. This is usually related to your previous role, but it could be linked to any past experience in or out of the workplace. The interviewer will then ask you to describe the result of this situation, which is where STAR begins.
How to Recognise a STAR Interview Question
A lot of people wrongly assume that recognising a STAR question is difficult, but this isn’t the case at all. Once you know what to look for, you can quickly recognise a question that would benefit from you giving a STAR answer. STAR questions as those that encourage you to give an example or tell a story. STAR questions can come in many forms, but they all start in a very similar way, such as:
- “Tell me about a time when you…”
- “Have you ever had to…”
- “Can you describe an occasion…”
- “What do you do when…”
All of these questions are then followed by something the interviewer wants to know more about. For example, an interviewer might ask you to give them an example of a specific time when you showcased a relevant skill. They could also ask you to tell them about a time you boosted sales.
How to Answer Questions Using The STAR Format
Once you have acknowledged that you need to answer a question using the STAR technique, it’s time to think of an example. The example you choose should be relevant, or as relevant as possible, to the industry or job role you are hoping to get. This is why it’s usually a good idea to pick an example from your previous job.
It’s impossible to know what you are going to be asked in a job interview, which is why having a few examples in your arsenal is beneficial. Instead of desperately scrambling around for a STAR example, have a few to choose from. You can then adapt them to fit the specific question being asked.
- Situation – You should start by describing the situation that you were faced with. Perhaps you had to deal with a disgruntled customer or you had a client that wanted a bespoke service carried out. It’s important to give as much information as possible, whilst keeping your answer short and to the point. Though the interviewer needs a brief understanding of what the situation entailed, the focus of a STAR answer should be on the actions you took to solve a problem. Think of this part as setting the scene for the rest of your STAR answer.
- Task – Next, you should move on to explain the task that you were given or the assignment that was given to you. It’s important to highlight to the interviewer how you fit into the task, so talk about your role and responsibilities. You should talk about the assignment you were given and what the target was. For example, if you had the task of increasing sales by a certain percentage, mention this.
- Action – Once the interviewer understands the situation and your role, the STAR format will direct you towards speaking about the actions you took. This is where you explain the steps you took to reach the goal or solve the problem. It’s a good idea to give specifics during this part of your answer, to really highlight how you played a vital part and how important your contribution was. The interviewer will want to hear specifics, such as any software you used and whether you collaborated with another team.
- Result – The final part of your STAR answer should focus on the positive outcome of your actions and what you learned, whilst continuously linking everything back to the situation. If you can, highlight the specific results and give figures if there are any. For example, you could say how much sales increased thanks to your hard work. You could also mention if your actions resulted in repeat business or boosting productivity. The focus of this section is to show the effects of your action.
Key Things to Remember About The STAR Method
Though the STAR interview format may seem daunting, it doesn’t need to be. As long as you remember these key things, you will be on your way to interview success.
- It’s important to find a balance between being compelling and informative, yet concise.
- Relate your answer back to your previous work experience as much as possible.
- You can avoid rambling and going off-topic by sticking to the STAR framework.
- Providing figures and statistics can help to back up the effectiveness of your actions.
So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about perfecting the STAR format during an interview. Though interviews are undeniably nerve-wracking, even more so if you are interviewing for your dream job, using the STAR method is a good way of guaranteeing that your answers are clear, compelling, and concise.