How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions With The STAR Technique

Prospective employers love to ask you behavioral interview questions (or situational interview questions). These kinds of questions dig a little deeper into what makes you tick. The answers reveal how you have handled real-world situations in the past, which predict how you will probably behave in similar situations in the future. Even more, they show how you think—how you approach and solve problems, which is a valuable thing to know about a potential employee. We almost always have to answer behavioral questions with some kind of example, or story. “Tell me about a time when you…” needs a story to explain. “How have you handled…” a particular kind of situation need a story, or an extended example, too. One of the problems with these kinds of interview questions for you is that it can be all too easy to get caught up in the story and miss making your point. Your point, in any story you tell (or in answering any interview question), is to give them one more reason that you’re wonderful and they should hire you. The way to be the most effective with any interview story you tell is to always frame your story in a particular structure, called the STAR technique. STAR stands for ‘Situation or Task,’ ‘Action,’ and ‘Result.’ Most people have no trouble retelling the situation and the action they took, but it’s very easy to forget about telling the result, which is the most important part. When you tell your story, tell it like this:


Situation or Task

Set the scene for your story. What was the situation? What task were you faced with? Give it some context, and show them what the problem was.

Action

Talk about your thought process or decision-making process that led to your choosing an Action to take. Walk them through it with you: “Because of X, Y, and Z, I looked at A, B, and C and decided that our best course of action was to do G.”

Result

This is the most important part. Obviously, this needs to be a positive, happy ending. If at all possible, quantify your result. This means to describe your result in terms of numbers, dollars, or percentages. For example:
  • “I saved the company $47,000.”
  • “I reduced our losses by 30%.”
  • “I saved a customer relationship worth $1M per year.”
  • “We were able to hire 6 new employees and increased our production by 400%.”
Whatever your results were, quantify them. This is the “wow” moment in your story. Numbers provide hard evidence that you did what you said you did, and put your achievement in context. This is a huge attention-getter for hiring managers. All the stories you can tell that show how you approach a problem or task, think critically about it, and make good, solid decisions that benefit your company will help you stand out in the interview and get the offer. **Discover what key competencies hiring managers look for with behavioral interview questions, and weave the themes of your stories into a compelling reason to hire you in Career Confidential’s Behavioral Interview Podcast..

Related Posts

How To Manage Without Being Mean (Is It Possible To Not Be Pushy?) 5 Things To Consider Before You Take That Management Job #1 Key To Becoming An Effective Leader

About the author

Career Coach - Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Diane submitted. She has recently worked with a co-worker on a group project. When it came time to present the project at a meeting, Diane let her co-worker present. While it went great, the co-worker proceed to take credit for nearly all of Diane's work. Frustrating to say the least!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less

Back in March, we made the hard decision to change our private Facebook group of over 37 THOUSAND members to a fee-based only platform.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if a recruiter called you a day EARLY for your phone interview (and you were NOT PREPARED!)

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less