When going into the interview process, preparing a range of answers for specific situational questions can help you feel more confident and prevent you from being caught off guard. The well-known saying “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is very accurate. Here at HEAT, we have created a guide to help you plan for your interviews using the STAR interview method.
What is the STAR Interview Technique?
The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to behavioural-based interview questions by talking about a specific Situation, Task, Action and Result. In this format, you will be expected to prove your professional ability through real-life examples of how you handled past job tasks, the challenges you faced and the results you achieved. The STAR interview format means employers can determine whether you, as a potential employee at their firm, are right for the job and if you are honest in terms of your failures and achievements.
How Do I Prepare For A STAR Interview?
The STAR format works by focusing on four main sections:
You’ll be expected to talk about a real-life situation you were involved in at a previous job that needed a solution. For example, you were set a task to create a social media campaign.
You’ll then explain what the task was and your role within it. Your answer will help employers know what responsibilities you had and how you performed in that situation. For example, what steps were you expected to take and what did you need to achieve?
Here you will describe what you did to address the situation. This is where the employer will judge your personality traits such as decision-making, leadership or conflict resolution. How did you execute the task? What was your plan of action?
Here is where you will get the chance to explain the results of your actions. It’s good to be a little self-critical in this section. Describe lessons learned and challenges faced. How did the end results benefit the organisation you were working for?
When going into an interview it’s unlikely that you’ll know exactly what kind of interview method the employer is going to use. However, following the STAR interview method and ensuring you are prepared to answer questions using the steps will benefit your performance during any interview. More and more employers are now likely to use either the STAR interview method or something similar.
One way that can help you prepare for the STAR interview format is thinking of some potential questions and writing out your answers. For example:
- Describe the Situation you were in (2-3 sentences)
- Explain the Task you partook in (1-2 sentences)
- Describe the Actions/methods you took to get a solution and why you chose those
ones specifically (2-3 sentences)
- Share what the outcome and Results were of that situation (2-3 sentences)
STAR Example for Interviews
“Walk me through a situation, from your previous job, where you were given a difficult task to complete. How did you handle said task?”
“One of the first situations that springs to mind is, during a busy period at my previous job, myself and my team were tasked with rolling out a campaign for a book launch for one of our clients at the time. We were provided with content, images and some other material for the campaign but we needed to compile some data in order to understand our target audience and what strategies they would respond well to.
We created audience profiles to better understand how to segment our campaign to target different groups, and then matched each group to a strategy that our data suggested would work for them. This involved email retargeting, paid ads and social media campaigns.
We were extremely happy with the results of our campaign as we saw a huge increase in traffic to the author’s social media accounts and also a dramatic increase of pre-orders, ahead of the book launch.”
This is an example of an answer that can answer all 4 stages of the STAR interview format. The more details you include surrounding how you handled the Situation, Task, Action and Results, the better your chances of being successful in the interview. We also recommend you use tangible figures when explaining your results, for example specifying a percentage increase in traffic.
Utilising the STAR Method
You can also use the STAR interview method when writing your CV, cover letter or application form when first applying for a job, way before the interview has been achieved. The STAR method is becoming a more popular form of interview tactic in recent years and is a great way for you to sell yourself in a professional and planned-out way. It helps reduce the risk of you not being able to answer a question or being unsure before going into the interview.