The STAR method is a simple framework for answering behavioral interview questions. It formats your interview answers in a way that shows interviewers how your experiences make you an outstanding candidate for the job you’re interviewing for. It’s a great formula for crafting a success story that highlights your skills and experience.
What Is the STAR Interview Method?
The STAR method is a formula for answering behavioral interview questions. It formats your interview answers in a way that shows interviewers how your experiences make you an outstanding candidate for the job you’re interviewing for.
The STAR interview technique is a format for answering behavioral questions by using a success story. Even if the situation wasn’t a complete success, you can show how you handled a situation you faced or what you learned.
Even if you’re making a career change, you can use experiences that show the hiring manager how your experience has prepared you for the role. The hiring manager wants to know if a job candidate has the skills and experience for the role. The STAR response technique helps you showcase transferable skills from previous work situations to make you a perfect fit for the role.
The structured answer format can help you better prepare for the interview process – which can be a stressful situation. Have your examples ready and give a confident response to these behavioral-based interview questions.
The STAR method give you a simple formula for creating success stories. Use these in your job interviews to show the hiring manager that you’re a perfect fit for the role.
When to Use the STAR Method
Use the STAR method during behavioral interview questions. These questions are simple to identify. They begin with the phrase “tell me about a time when…”
You’ll get many of these behavioral questions during your job interviews. These common interview questions help the interviewers see how you handle situations like performance under pressure or unrealistic deadlines with concrete examples. By using the STAR interview technique, you’ll be ready for them.
To get an idea of what types of questions to plan for, look closely at the job posting you’re applying for. Look at what skills and experience they’re most interested in and plan your stories around situations that highlight these.
Relevant skills that are in demand for project managers:
- Leadership skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Organizational skills
- Conflict management
- Critical thinking
- Handling difficult timelines, team members, or other common project challenges (link to why projects fail)
Read this: 10 Reasons Projects Fail
Use the STAR Method when answering behavioral interview questions. These are questions that start with “tell me about a time when…” For a great list of questions, see this post: Epic List of Project Manager Behavioral Interview Questions to Prove You’re the Ideal Candidate for the Job
Types of Interview Questions
There are many types of interview questions.
– Situational interview questions ask about hypothetical situations and how you would behave.
– Behavioral interview questions ask about your experience and how you behaved in certain situations.
Behavioral questions give you more opportunities to tell success stories about transferable skills, even if you didn’t hold the job title you’re applying for. There are many ways you can show that you have relevant skills through these types of questions.
By planning for these standard questions, you can craft the perfect answer to showcase your professional strengths and strongest skills.
How to answer a question using the STAR method with examples
To use the STAR technique, you’ll craft success stories from real-life examples to show that you have the skills and experience that the interviewer is looking for. The STAR formula consists of the following elements in crafting your stories:
Explain the situation you were in or a time when you experienced the situation presented by the interviewer. Describe the actual situation or environment you were working in when you encountered the problem. Don’t spend a great deal of time on the background here. Describe the challenge briefly. Your interviewer is more interested in your actions and results. Identify a couple of the most important points to give the best understanding of the situation.
“The team faced a tight deadline with an important client. They had a hard deadline and we had a small team and limited capacity.”
Explain your role and the goal or task you needed to accomplish. Don’t spend a great deal of time on this section of your story.
“As the Project Manager, it was my responsibility to ensure we met the deadline while maintaining team morale.”
Explain the actions you took to meet the goal, or how you handled the situation. Discuss some of the most important things you did to achieve success. This is where you’ll spend the most focus on your story and how you’ll show your experience and that you’re a great fit for the role.
When working on projects, it’s usually the entire team who has worked together for a successful outcome. And skilled project managers recognize the role their team plays. But for interviewing purposes, the hiring manager needs to see what actions you took in the challenge and how you can bring your skills to the new role. For this reason, highlight what actions you took in the situation.
“I identified short-term milestones and got team buy-in. I set up very short regular meetings with the team to quickly identify any roadblocks or issues so we could address them quickly. And I set up regular status reports to keep the client and other stakeholders updated.“
Tell the outcome or result of your actions. What did you learn from the experience and have you grown from it in any way? Have you been able to apply what you learned going forward? Identify the most impressive results and focus on these in your answer.
If you can quantify your results, then do so. And tell how the experience helped you grow and become even better in your role.
“Because we addressed potential issues so quickly, we met the deadline and saved the client from considerable risk. We also earned future business with the same company, based on their trust in us. I also became much more efficient in communications going forward, both with the team and with stakeholders.”
Put It All Together!
Now that we’ve walked through each of the components of the STAR technique, let’s look at it all together.
The interviewer may ask a question such as “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult team member.”
The response may look something like this:
(Situation) A team member I worked with often committed to actions but regularly missed target dates. She consistently either delivered only part of her work or missed the target date completely. This resulted in an overall impact on our schedule, others having to take up the slack when the team member missed the due date, increased stress, and strained relationships among team members.
(Task) I needed to have work delivered on time.
(Action) I met with the team member to identify the root of the problem and to come up with a solution. I pointed out that she’d been missing target dates for documents that she’d committed to. She responded she thought she was delivering what I needed. Also, other managers regularly asked for unplanned work at the same time, impacting her available capacity. I shared that going forward, I would be more specific about expectations for deliverables, and asked that she let me know immediately if other items conflicted with her ability to complete them.
(Results) This resolved the problem. Going forward, she regularly met the target dates. And she spoke more openly with management about conflicting priorities when they asked for something. We discovered that not everything they asked for took priority over her project deliverables. And I learned to be more specific and clear when talking with team members about commitments.
Tips on Getting the Most Out of the STAR Method
- Prepare your stories in advance. Don’t wait until you’re in the interview to come up with your list of stories. You can figure out what types of questions they’re going to ask based on the information in the job posting, your conversations with others in the role or in the company, and your experience. Use this information as a guide to come up with answers to these questions.
- Make your story relevant. Make sure you’re using stories that apply to the question the interviewer asked. You may have prepared multiple examples and stories. Make sure you’re matching your answer to what your interviewer is asking.
- Prepare multiple examples. Prepare multiple examples so you have a variety of stories to share in your interview.
- Be concise. Don’t ramble through stories.
- Practice. Practice in advance by telling your stories out loud. Go a step further and take a video of yourself telling the stories. You’ll be able to see where you can improve your delivery.
- Don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments. You want to make it easy for the interviewer to see the value you bring to their organization.
- Be honest. Never lie.
- Use personal examples if needed. If you don’t have any examples from your previous work experience, find examples from your personal life. Everyone has 3-5 success stories from personal experiences they can pull from if needed.
- Don’t complain. This is not an opportunity to complain about your boss, coworkers, or job.
The STAR method is a formula for crafting stories to show the hiring manager how you’re a perfect candidate for the role you’re interviewing for. Use these stories to answer behavior-based interview questions. Each success story highlights skills and traits that make you a great fit for the role. You can show how your transferable skills prepare you for the job, even if you didn’t hold the same title you’re applying for. The STAR framework is a perfect way to answer behavioral-based questions to showcase your strongest skills and give the team confidence that you’re a great fit for the job.