Interview Prep Tips

How to Answer Behavioral Questions: The STAR Method

How to Answer Behavioral Questions: The STAR Method

If you have an interview coming up that you want to prepare for, you’ve come to the right place! Have you ever been asked a question that started like “tell me about a time when…?” If so, you’ve probably encountered a question that would best be answered with the STAR Method for behavioral interview questions. These questions are typically easy to recognize and are questions where you must detail a situation or experience that you have been through.

Side Note: Voomer is a great product to help you practice interview questions for one-way video interviews, such as Hirevue (see our blog on Hirevue interviews), or interviews in general. Get feedback on your delivery, speech speed, and more by trying out Voomer today!

What is the Star Method?

The Star Method is a structured way of responding to interview questions that will give interviewers the information they are looking for in a structured and concise manner. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. When answering an interview question, you want to touch on each of these categories for the situation you are describing.

Situation: This is where you describe the context surrounding your answer. Often detailing where and why something happened and giving the interviewer the proper background.

Task: Describe what you had to do because of the situation. What task was laid out before you?

Action: Detail what action you took towards the task or to solve what situation you were in. You have the opportunity to emphasize any important or impactful actions that you took.

Result: This is where you detail the results of the actions that you took and the resolution, if there is one, to the situation. Make sure to highlight any accomplishments or impact that the interviewer might want to know.

Let’s Use an Example!

An example of a question that can be answered with the STAR Method is “Tell me about a time when you were behind on your work. Why were you behind? Did you catch up?”

Example Answer:

Situation: One example of a time that I fell behind on work was in my prior job as an Analyst at Somewhere Bank. I was relatively new to my job and still trying to get my bearings on the responsibilities. My main assignment was a project that I was assigned a few weeks after starting. While working on this project, a colleague asked me for help on their project. Simultaneously, the project I was working on got expanded and I had new deadlines that I had to meet.

Task: Because of this, I fell behind on some of my deadlines and I had to catch up while adjusting to the new requirements. I wanted to help my colleague and stay ahead of my work so I came up with a plan.

Action: I met with my manager to readjust some of my original deadlines and prioritize those which seemed more important, I blocked off specific times on my calendar for when I was available to help my colleague and to give myself time to work on my own project.

Result: Using these tactics, I was able to catch up on my work. I met all of the renegotiated deadlines and helped my colleague with their assignment as well. Not only was my project completed successfully, I was commended by manager for my adaptability.

Does it Always Work?

While the STAR Method is great, there are some situations where you are better not using it. The STAR Method is really tailored to behavioral interview questions. These are questions that gauge how you reacted in a certain situation and are used by interviewers to measure your skills and how you might conduct yourself in a professional environment. Here are some examples of popular behavioral questions to give you an idea of what they look like:

  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
  • Give an example of when you had a disagreement in a team setting. Was the issue resolved?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead a team.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to improve at anything, including interviews is to practice. The STAR Method is just one technique for you to put in your interviewing toolbox. It is a good idea to look at example questions that the company you are applying to might ask on glassdoor and using those to practice the STAR method.

Another tool to help you practice is Voomer. We have an AI-powered engine along with interview questions for thousands of companies to help you prepare for interviews. You can use this feedback to help you improve quickly and land your next job!

By David Anderton-Yang

David Anderton-Yang is the CEO and co-founder of Voomer where AI as a force for good, helping people be more confident on video.

He is a former researcher at the MIT Media Lab, Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree.