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STAR Interview Questions: Tips and Examples

Sarah O’Mahoney

Marketing Specialist and Freelance Writer


Preparing for an interview requires a lot of time and effort. Preparation shouldn’t be put on the long finger if you have an interview coming up. When you know common interview questions, it can be a great help. So, kill off those nervous feelings by preparing yourself for what is coming. One way to do that is to practice STAR interview questions.

Have you heard of the STAR interview technique? If not, don’t worry… this blog article goes into detail and provides examples of STAR method interview questions and answers. This guide will help you get familiar with the model. Soon you will be ready for any STAR interview questions that are put in your way.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this type of interviewing style is a great way for the interviewer to get an idea of how you have handled real life situations in the past. It helps them figure out if you are right for the task at hand. So, now that that is understood, let’s delve a little deeper.

What is the STAR Method of Interviewing?

Star interview questions -what does STAR stand for?

Interviewers use the STAR model to ask behavioral questions. In short, your answers to these questions focus on how you behave in real life situations that involve some sort of conflict and resolution. Your answer will usually follow the STAR format. By now you may be wondering “what does STAR stand for?”

STAR is an acronym, which means the following: 

S – Situation: Describe the situation you found yourself in.

T – Task: Talk about what your task involved in this particular situation. 

A – Action: Detail what actions you took in order to resolve this citation. 

R – Results: Discuss what was the outcome of this situation and how did the actions help you to address it.

This framework is quite easy to get the hang of once you have spent some time looking at some STAR method examples. The STAR method of interviewing is a great way to keep your responses structured and on point. In an interview it can be easy to go off track when answering questions, but in a STAR interview this is a lot less likely to happen if you follow the framework correctly. 

Let’s get into more detail about the acronym STAR…

STAR Method Interview

The STAR method, as we mentioned, follows a step by step guide to answering behavioral interview questions. For the purpose of explaining the STAR acronym, we will use the example question “tell me about a time when you faced a difficult issue at work, and what you did to resolve it?” This is a typical STAR method interview question, and we will break it down step by step.

Situation

The first step in answering STAR method interview questions is to describe a situation you have been in. In the case of our example question, we will be describing a time in which we faced a difficult issue at work. 

In order to do this, you may need to recall a couple of situations where you faced a problem. Do this during your interview preparation so you aren’t stumped during the interview.

Let’s say you worked in customer service. The difficult issue you faced was dealing with an angry customer who has been waiting for over three weeks for their order to arrive. To start off answering the question, you may say something like this.

“When I worked at Company X as a Customer Service Representative, I dealt with hundreds of customers every day. One day in particular was super busy. On the same day I received a phone call from a customer who was clearly frustrated that they had not received an order they had been waiting for, for almost a whole month.” 

Task

Once you have described the situation you found yourself in, you can move on to discussing the task. This is where you tell the interviewer what your responsibility was in this particular situation.

Continuing on with the same example, you may follow on with something like this. 

“I now needed to listen to the customer carefully and address this issue, as my role involved resolving customer complaints.” 

There is no need for too much detail in the “task” section. The next phase, “action”, is when you can go into describing what you did to resolve the customer complaint. 

Action

Now you can tell the interviewer what actions and steps you took to address the issue for the customer who has not received their order. The next piece of your answer may go like this.

"Before I had collected the customers details, like their name and order number, I expressed my sincerest apologies to the customer for this issue occurring. In order to resolve this problem I entered their details into the company's system. I called out the details we had on the order to the customer, like the delivery address, order date, the products that were ordered and so on. Upon doing this, it turned out that the order had been delivered to the wrong address. I informed the customer about this, and let them know that we would send out their order again on the same day, and we would also add store credit into their account.” 

It is advisable when preparing for a STAR format interview that you use situations that show your skills and experience in a positive light. For example, many customer service representatives have dealt with situations that have been very tough to resolve, but it is best to describe an example that is easy to follow and talk about. 

Result

When it comes to STAR method questions, the last phase of your answer is the “result”. This is your chance to really show the interviewer how you were able to turn a negative situation into a positive one. 

Looking at the customer service representative example, you may end the answer by saying:

“The customer was very understanding about the mix up, and really appreciated the store credit. He thanked me for my help, and I expressed gratitude to the customer for being so patient. The customer reviewed the product once they had received it, and they even wrote about how helpful the staff are at Company X.”

You have now successfully answered a STAR formatted question by detailing each step of the acronym! It is just like telling a story, right!? Star interview questions all follow the same method. Once you can answer one, you can answer all of them.

The main thing you need to do to get ahead is take some time to think of real life examples. You may be hit with a STAR question you haven’t necessarily prepared for in- depth. However, if you have spent some time thinking about the situations you have faced at work, you will be able to think of something a lot faster than if you didn’t. 

STAR Interview Question Examples

As we mentioned, the STAR method interviewing takes some time to get right. One of the best ways you can prepare for your STAR interview question and answers is to practice lots of different questions. 

Can’t think of any STAR interview method examples you can practice to? Well, you’re in luck. We compiled a list of some of the most common and typical STAR interview questions.

  • Describe a time you provided great service to a customer or client. 
  • Can you tell me about a time you faced conflict while working as part of a team? How did you resolve this conflict?
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with that failure?
  • Describe your most successful project. 
  • Tell me about a time you faced a lot of pressure to meet a deadline. 
  • Detail a time when you made a mistake and how you dealt with it. 
  • Give an example of a goal you met. 
  • Can you think of a time you have a disagreement with a manager or supervisor?
  • Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision. 
  • Discuss a situation where you had to adapt to your surroundings quickly?
  • Can you give an example of how you typically deal with conflict? 
  • Tell me about a time you used logic and good judgement to solve an issue at work?
  • Describe a time when you showed initiative and took the lead on a project.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with an angry or upset co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you successfully delegated work to a colleague. 
  • Tell me about a time where you could have handled a situation better?
  • Can you think of a time when you motivated a team towards meeting a goal?
  • Describe a time you had to use coping skills to deal with a difficult or stressful situation.

RELATED CONTENT: STAR Interview Technique with Questions and Answers (PASS)

Going Forward

You can use the above list to practice your approach to STAR interview questions, and ace your next interview. As we mentioned, this list does not cover every possible question that you may be asked in a STAR formatted interview, but these will help you get started on the right track. 

Hopefully by now the STAR interviewing technique is less daunting for you, and you feel ready to tackle your interview. Remember…

  • Make your mistakes before the interview.
  • Give yourself enough time to think about possible questions.
  • Recall work situations you have been in before.

Even if your next interview is your first STAR formatted interview, just remember to relax, be yourself and remain professional. Best of luck!

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