People Magazine

How to use the STAR Interview Technique to land a Job

Star interview technique
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The STAR technique can tap into a candidate’s creativity.

STAR allows HR and the hiring manager to learn more information than a CV and background check would give.

STAR questions eliminate canned responses.

Get examples of STAR questions.

There are many interview techniques, but one of the most effective might be STAR. STAR Technique interview questions include introducing a Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It’s a helpful tool for questions based on competency.

You probably recognize the STAR interview technique from questions starting with, “Tell me about a time …”. For a competency-based interview, STAR can help the interviewer get to know you and spark productive conversations. Also, once the interviewer understands the analytical side of your brain, it help him understand if he or she is hiring the right person for the business.

However, you want to make sure that you provide answers relevant to the position. Many candidates have canned responses ready for “Tell me about a time you had a difficult customer.” Although that question is relevant to many positions, it won’t necessarily help the interviewer understand your qualifications. The STAR interview method is specific to each business and job.

STAR Technique interview questions: tips

According to The Balance Careers, the best competency-based interview STAR questions are customized for every interview. The people who usually create these questions are those who previously held the position. You can impress the interviewer by being creative and thinking on your feet. These questions are designed to render genuine results.

It’s also important to note that STAR questions only apply to past scenarios in which you’ve achieved a specific result from an action you took to accomplish a task. The STAR technique cannot apply to hypothetical situations. STAR interview questions typically start with phrases like “Tell me about a time when…” or “In the past, how did you handle a conflict with a coworker…”

The STAR technique can’t be used with hypothetical questions because you can’t identify a result that happened from a specific action you took. A response that utilizes this process must show a particular result or outcome from an action.

Customize your STAR responses

Here are a few sample questions you may receive:

  1. In your past role, tell me about a time when you had an opportunity to upsell an item. How did you handle the situation? Upselling is the key to success for many retailers. Understanding how you have tackled an upsell can be critical in making hiring decisions.
  2. Discuss a time when a customer pressured you for information that you didn’t have on hand. How did you give them a good experience without guessing? High stakes environments, such as luxury car dealerships, can mean one wrong move ends in thousands of dollars lost. You might not know the company protocol at the moment, but this question gives the hiring manager a peek into how you think.
  3. Reflect on a time when you weren’t scheduled to work, but a colleague was very ill. How did you help the team during a staff shortage? These types of questions are largely for retail workers, but it’s essential for the company to know how flexible you are. While managers certainly shouldn’t avoid hiring someone who says no in this imaginary situation, it will give them a glimpse into your availability.

In every type of job, significant challenges often arise. The employee’s action and the result are critical to company success. When asked these types of behavioral questions, be ready with a few examples of how you’ve executed a similar task in a past position. When answering the question, follow the STAR method to provide a complete example for the hiring manager.

Identify a specific situation, task, action or result you achieved from your actions. This technique helps to hire managers to gain a clear understanding of your skills without having to ask to follow up questions to understand how you delivered results.

HR professionals might Learn More from STAR than from a CV

One of the best aspects of STAR is that it opens up conversations. Most biographical information, such as schools attended, can be gleaned from a resume. There is no need for you to regurgitate basic information that the company should already have. Instead, the interview should be a time for interviewers to get to know you and how you think. Reflecting on past workplace scenarios can give them a lot more information.


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