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How to Prepare for Job Interviews Using the STAR Technique

Updated on January 19, 2016

It always helps to stand out from the crowd during job interviews. Following the STAR method (or PAR method) may help you do that. Using this technique, job candidates give complete answers to interview questions. You are more likely to impress job interviewers with detailed and specific answers, rather than general, vague answers. If you're being interviewed using a behavioral interviewing technique, you must use the STAR method.

The STAR method of interviewing for jobs may help you stand out from the crowd
The STAR method of interviewing for jobs may help you stand out from the crowd

What is Behavioral Interviewing?

Behavioral Interviewing is a job interviewing technique that is becoming more common. The idea behind behavioral interviewing is that the best predictor of future job performance is performance in previous jobs. Interviews focus on experience, actions, knowledge and skills from previous jobs. You will not be successful at this type of interview if you give incomplete or very general answers.

How to Answer Interview Questions Using the STAR Technique

The acronym STAR stands for:

S = Situation
T = Task
A = Actions
R = Results

You may sometimes see references to the PAR interviewing technique. This is the same thing, with P for Problem.

Listen to each question carefully and then give a response that covers STAR, even if it's a closed question you could easily answer yes or no to. Your response may involve either a situation or a task. For example, if you are asked a question about dealing with a difficult coworker you can describe a similar situation in the past. If you're asked a question about how you would go about cutting costs, you could describe a similar task that you did in the past.

STAR
Definition
Situation
Give a specific example of a situation related to the quesion
Task
Describe a task that needed to be accomplished
Actions
Explain the actions you carried out related to the situation or task
Results
Explain the results of your actions

Example Interview Answer Using STAR

Imagine a candidate interviewing for a management job in a fast food restaurant. He's asked the question “Have you ever had to deal with a difficult customer?” The job candidate could give a simple yes or no answer to this question. Or he could give a general answer like “Yes, I dealt with difficult customers on a regular basis.” But he should use the STAR approach to give a detailed, specific and impressive answer.

STAR
Answer
Situation or Task
I was a supervisor in a coffee shop. A staff member prepared a customer’s coffee incorrectly. The customer was in a hurry to get back to work, so he was very angry. I immediately became aware of the problem and stepped in to resolve it. This was a regular customer and I did not want lose him.
Actions
I remained calm and apologized to the customer. I verified the order with him and quickly prepared the correct order myself. I apologized again for the mix up and offered him a coupon for his next visit.
Result
The man calmed down. He was grateful to me for quickly correcting his order and for the coupon. He thanked me and left with a smile.

This response is far more effective than a vague or general response. It proves that the job candidate has the experiences, knowledge and skills to deal with similar situations in the future.

STAR Interview Method

Contrary Job Interview Questions

Be prepared also for contrary questions. These are questions that relate to when you failed at something. The interviewer is trying to determine how you handled failure and what you learned from it. Be prepared for contrary questions in advance and answer using the STAR method with emphasis on what you learned and what you might do to avoid a similar result in the future.

Preparing for a Job Interview

Learn as much as you can about the company. Go through the job description to determine what past experiences may relate to this particular job. If you're just out of high school or college, you can include projects and volunteer jobs to prepare answers.

Get lists of questions that you're likely to be asked for a job interview in your field. Use the STAR method to develop answers before you attend any interviews.

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    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      11 months ago from U.S.A.

      Your work is interesting and very well expressed. My friend, you are a STAR! Thanks.

    • profile image

      Nimran 

      6 years ago

      Nice page for job seeker. It is very helpful for all of us to improve our skill..for more you can visit in my blog http://solusoftun.blogspot.com/2012/03/free-interv...

    • profile image

      Nimran 

      6 years ago

      Nice page for job seeker. It is very helpful for all of us to improve our skill..for more you can visit in my blog

    • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

      Learn Things Web 

      6 years ago from California

      Charles,

      That is a good idea. Putting results you achieved on resumes can be a huge selling point as well.

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 

      6 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      Very good.

      The same technique also applies to preparing your CV or resume where you should say what skills and experiences you gained from each job or activity,not just recite them.

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