STAR Interviewing: The How To’s

The STAR technique is a strategy designed to help candidates shine at the interview. It shows how to navigate those often confounding and difficult to answer behavioral questions that hiring managers use to identify essential characteristics needed in candidates, such as strong communication, quick-thinking, and problem-solving skills. They help hiring managers identify essential characteristics, but they often leave candidates floundering to find answers.

STAR Interviewing: The Breakdown

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results.

Familiarizing yourself with the basics of STAR interviewing is like having a foundation that helps structure responses to all kinds of questions, even the ones that might normally throw you for a loop.

Sample STAR Interview Question

The Situation is the circumstances that require attention. The Task is the goal needed to deal with the Situation. The Action describes the activity that you implemented to address the Situation. The Result is the final outcome your actions initiated and what you learned.

Here’s an example of how to use the STAR method to answer the interview question, “Tell me about a challenge you overcame.” Situation: You had a customer complain they’ve waited two weeks to hear from customer support about a defective product. She no longer wanted a replacement. She wanted a refund. But company policy is the customer has 10 days to return the product for a refund. What did you do? Task: Address the customer’s query and bring about a satisfying resolution.

Action: “I apologized for the inconvenience and thanked her for calling to resolve the matter. I got the details and compared them to any notes taken by the previous representative. I went to my supervisor and strongly suggested we make the exception on the refund policy. If my supervisor had said no, I’d offer to express a replacement so that she would have it in two days, along with a discount on a future order.” Result: “My supervisor agreed to the refund. I gave her the good news and a 10% discount on a future order. She was happy and I let her know we appreciate her continued business.” STAR interviewing requires active listening and forethought. Even a skilled communicator will not always be able to create spontaneous responses to behavioral questions. Think in terms of specifics and not in generalities, be sure to show success, and do not be afraid to ask questions that may help you find the best ways to utilize STAR interviewing.

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