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The STAR Method

the star method

Are you looking for a way to make sure you ace job interviews every time?

Trying to come up with the answers to interview questions can be difficult. The trick is creating detailed answers that highlight your skills and attributes in the best possible way.

However, the last thing you want to do is ramble on during the interview and bore the interviewer. Fortunately, the STAR method has been created as a guide to answering behavioral interview questions interestingly and concisely.

So, let’s take a closer look at this proven method and how you can use it when answering interview questions.

the star method

The Star Interview Method

The STAR interview response method is a special way of asking and answering behavioral interview questions. While interviewers often use the S.T.A.R method to structure their questions, it can also be used when answering them. These questions relate to past performance and can be used to tell a story.

Interviewers usually ask behavioral questions to look for valuable soft skills in the candidate. These could be analytical and problem-solving skills, communication skills, and leadership skills. Since it is difficult to demonstrate these skills in an interview, it is necessary to draw on past experience.

Examples Of Behavioral Interview Questions

There are two main types of interview questions, behavioral and technical. Behavioral interview questions are designed to discover the candidate’s personality traits, while operational questions are aimed at discovering technical skills.

Examples of behavioral interview questions include:

  • How do you approach problems at work?
  • Describe a time when you took the initiative on a project.
  • Do you work well as part of a team?
  • What would you do if you disagreed with another team member?
  • How do you manage multiple projects?
  • Describe a time when you worked well under pressure.
  • Do you have strong problem-solving skills?

The Key STAR Method Concepts

STAR is an acronym for four main concepts. Each of the concepts is a step that you can use when answering behavioral interview questions. Utilizing each of the steps, in turn, helps you to create a complete answer that serves many functions.


You begin your answer by briefly describing the context in which your example takes place. This is effectively setting the scene so that the interviewer can picture you in the situation. Be as specific as possible while keeping your answer brief and to the point.


Continue by describing your responsibility in the situation. This could be working as part of a team to complete a project on a tight deadline. Alternatively, you could need to resolve a conflict with a difficult colleague.

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This concept step requires you to explain the action you took in the situation. Of course, your action should have had a positive effect and should reflect some of your key skills. These could be organizational skills, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, or a wide range of other skills.


This final concept explains the results or outcomes of the action that was taken. It is a good idea to highlight what you learned from the experience and what you accomplished.

Using The STAR Method To Prepare For An Interview

While some questions are almost guaranteed to be asked in an interview, you can never really know what else will be asked. Therefore, it is a good idea to prepare a few scenarios in advance that you can draw on. These should be flexible enough so that you can adapt them to a number of different questions.

Create a List of the Essential Job Qualifications

Start by carefully reviewing the job description and listing the required skills and attributes. You can also check out similar job descriptions and find out if there are additional required skills. Pay close attention to skills that match your specific qualifications and soft skills.

Make a List of Examples

It is time to think of times at work when you have used the skills on your list. Try to write down at least five examples that you can talk about clearly and paint yourself in a good light. Use the S.T.A.R method for each example to name the situation, task, action, and result.

star method guide

Match Your Skills to the Job Requirements

Review each of the examples and make sure they are related to the job you are applying for. The end goal is to reveal to the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job. They should be able to see your skills clearly and know that you will use them in your new role.

When to Use the S.T.A.R Method?

There is a large number of standard behavioral interview questions that could be asked during the interview. However, the questions typically fall into certain categories. Identifying these categories allows you to prepare a story for each of them.

  • Problem-solving/planning.
  • Teamwork.
  • Leadership/initiative.
  • Stress/pressure.
  • Conflict resolution skills.

How To Get The Most Out Of The S.T.A.R Method?

This method should guide you on how to structure your answers to behavioral questions. However, you still need to take the time to work out what you want to include in your answer. Here are some tips to help make sure that your answers have as much impact as possible.

Preparation is key

There is no substitute for preparation, and it will be obvious to the interviewer whether you have done your homework. Taking the time to prepare a set of answers using the S.T.A.R method will make answering the questions easier. It will ensure that your key skills are highlighted and demonstrate your strong communication skills.

Provide specific details

Using the S.T.A.R interview method allows you to create concise and impactful answers that are rich with details. This is important because the last thing you want to do is bore the interviewer. If your answers are vague and generic, you can be sure that they will quickly be forgotten.

the star method guide

It is important to make sure that the interviewer has a clear idea of who you are and what you have to offer. You should be able to show how you use your skills in your work to deliver the best results possible. This will allow the interviewer to gain an understanding of how you can benefit the company.

Provide details of measurable results

If you have achieved certain things during your work, make sure that they are highlighted. The achievements should be clearly explained in terms that can be measured and easily understood. Instead of simply saying that you boosted sales, provide a percentage or other hard facts to back up the statement.

Be succinct

Every word needs to count when you are answering interview questions. While you need to include details, make sure that all the details are relevant to the question. If the interviewer starts to look bored or distracted, it is a good sign that you have been talking too long.

Be truthful

While you will naturally want to impress the interviewer, make sure that everything you say is true. Being caught out in a lie will undermine your credibility and damage your career prospects. It is better to stick to the truth and let your strong communication skills do the heavy lifting for you.

Be memorable

Make sure your answers are interesting and help you to stand out from the crowd. In most cases, the interviewer will have seen several candidates, often on the same day. You need to include interesting details that the interviewer will remember.

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Answering STAR Interview Questions

Knowing what not to say is just as important as knowing what to say. The last thing you want to do is create a bad first impression. Here are some common mistakes that are best avoided.

Not being prepared

No matter how good a storyteller you are, creating a story on the spot can be risky. There is a chance that you will simply ramble on and fail to highlight your key skills. Preparing between three and five interview answers using the S.T.A.R method will help to prevent this situation.

Being overly prepared

Even though you have practiced your answers in advance, they need to sound natural and spontaneous. Trying to repeat every word from a carefully written script will make you sound like a robot. It is much better to remember the general theme of the story and tell it conversationally.

star method tips

Failing to answer the question

No matter how prepared you are, your mind may go blank in the interview if you are feeling stressed. The worst thing you could do in this situation is make up a story so that you have something to say. It is better to either pause for a second and have a sip of water, or alternatively, to be honest, and ask if you can go back to the question later in the interview.

Alternatively, it may be the case that you have not encountered a scenario that the interviewer asks you about. In this case, provide an answer based on what you would do in theory. Explain that although you have not had to tackle the scenario, this is how you would plan to deal with it.

Describing a failure

The interviewer may have asked you to describe a time when you failed at work. These types of questions are designed to gauge how you handle failure and adversity. While you should answer the question honestly, you still have to paint yourself in the best light possible.

Begin by explaining the circumstances that led to the failure. Briefly touch on how the failure made you feel and your resolve to turn the situation around. End by showing how you resolved the failure rather than simply walking away from it. You will get bonus points for describing what you learned from the failure and how you prevented it from happening again in the future.

Not linking your story to the question

Make sure that you listen to the question carefully before selecting your answer. While you may have the perfect answer prepared, it will be useless if it does not match the question. This will show that you do not have the required attention to detail or focus to answer a simple interview question and probably to do the job.

Stretching the truth

Nobody is 100% perfect, and you don’t need to be the hero of every story. While you need to come across as confident and competent, your stories also need to be real. If the interviewer feels that your stories are made up, they are likely to question your integrity.

Need More Interview Info And Advice?

If you’re not quite prepared yet, we found additional advice online on the S.T.A.R Interview Method. So, check out The STAR Method Explained: Proven Technique to Succeed at Interview, or The STAR Interview: How to Tell a Great Story, Nail the Interview and Land Your Dream Job.

And for the perfect notebook to prepare for your interview is the STAR METHOD INTERVIEW: Interview Journal: Notebook designed for job seekers to use as a guide for interview prep and as a tool for interview questions and answers during interviews, all available in 2023.

Additional online interview guides include Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, or maybe Amazing Interview Answers: 44 Tough Job Interview Questions with 88 Winning Answers for that final preparation.

And lastly, we also found How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions, as well as INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED!: How to Ace the Interview, Sell Yourself & Get Your Dream Job.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the secret to answering interview questions well, it is time to practice. Write out a list of questions that are likely to be asked during the interview. These include questions about your key skills and how you handle stressful situations.

Now use the S.T.A.R method to map out your answers to these questions. Practice your stories so that you have a basic idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it. If possible, role-play a few questions with a friend or family member and ask for their feedback.

All the very best with your future Interviews!

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