The S.T.A.R. method is based on the basic psychological principle that the best predictor of future behavior (i.e., how you will perform on the job) is past performance (i.e., how you have already performed in similar situations).
Thus the employer will ask you behavioral interview questions about your past experiences – including work, volunteer, extracurricular, academic – to gauge how you will perform in the role they are interviewing you for.
Interviewers want examples as specific as possible, so try to avoid vague generalities.
S – Situation: Describe the context of the Situation – group project, work scenario
T – Task: Describe the Task and your specific role – goal, problem to be solved, improvement
A – Action: Describe the Actions you took – planning and implementing to reach the goal, communicating to team members to solve a program
R – Result: Describe the Results of your action – impact, influence, positive change
Things to Keep in Mind
- It’s highly recommended to think of S.T.A.R. method answers to a variety of behavioral interview questions prior to the interview. It’s challenging to think of these detailed answers on the spot.
- Consider writing out the answers to help commit the examples to memory.
- Highlight scenarios that have a positive result because of your action (not the action of someone else).
- Practice your answers with a friend, roommate or Career Services professional to ensure that your response flows naturally and doesn’t take too much time to communicate.
S.T.A.R. in Action
Behavioral Question: When working on a team, describe a time when one person was not doing their share of the work. What did you do?
Situation: As a member of the Executive Board of Women in Tech, we had scheduled a meeting before the semester to outline our marketing campaign to attract new members to our club.
Task: Our president gave us one month prep time to come to the meeting with at least 3 marketing outreach ideas. The night before the meeting another board member texted me to say she hadn’t prepared any ideas and asked if I could share mine with her.
Action: I choose to text her and ask if we could have a phone call that evening. During the call instead of beginning the conversation by sharing my ideas, I used my active listening skills to learn why she hadn’t completed the prep work and empathized with her regarding her extenuating circumstances. I then began a short brainstorming conversation with her about marketing ideas for our club.
Result: By the end of the call, she had come up with five of her own unique ideas for the next day’s meeting. I utilized my communication and interpersonal skills to simultaneously solve a conflict with a board member and ensure the goal of our club was met by having us both prepared with marketing ideas.