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4 Steps to be a STAR

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

You will have heard of the STAR method of responding to job interview questions, but do you really know how to do this?

The STAR method is a framework for answering behavioural interview questions, which are questions that ask about specific situations and experiences you've had in the past.

The acronym STAR stands for: Situation (the context of the situation or challenge you faced), Task (explain the task or issue), Action (the specific actions you took to address the situation or accomplish the task), Result (the outcome).

By explaining how you responded to a situation in the past, it gives the interview panel an idea of how you will work in the future.

Most people have a vague idea about how to respond using the STAR method, but tend to focus on the wrong areas.

They spend way too much time describing the Situation/problem, and not enough time talking about their Actions.

I also find that the T: Task part confuses people, so I just get my clients to focus on Situation, Action and Result = SAR!

(Yes, you have permission to ignore Task!)

Here is my simple 4 step structure for responding to a behavioural question:

1: INTRO (brief - 20 seconds): Say that you have the skill they are asking about or that you do it all the time, or describe your style. For example, 'Building relationships with internal and external stakeholders is one my strengths, and I use my solid relationships to influence and effect outcomes.'

2: SITUATION (brief - 30 seconds): Describe the job and issue you faced, being clear about your role. "As XYZ at ABC I coordinated a cross-departmental project that required me to work with staff across the organisation and seek their input into the project. They were initially reluctant and saw it as extra, unnecessary work."

3: ACTION (detailed - 1-2 minutes): Describe in detail the steps/actions you took in response to the situation. Use 'I' as much as possible. "I distributed a project overview to Directors and met with them each individually to ensure they understood the importance of the project and what I needed from their team. I then built relationships with each departmental project contact and..."

4: RESULT (brief - 20-30 seconds): Describe the outcome of the situation due to your actions. "The project was a success, with all departments fully contributing. It's now been rolled out and..."

Do some brainstorming to come up with examples to use in your SAR responses, ensuring you have at least 2 examples for each of the job selection criteria.

You'll then be ready to wow them with your concise and clear responses!

If you need some help preparing and practicing for behavioural questions, please get in touch! I love job interview coaching and helping my clients feel more confident, relaxed and prepared for their interviews.

Need extra help with Job Interviews? Check out my new Job Interview Confidence online program!
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