Applying the STAR Method to the Most Nerve Wracking Interview Questions

Are you a good storyteller? Do you include every necessary detail while still getting to the point? Maybe you forget key points or begin to ramble, well, how much harder is that when you add the stress of an interview? Is it going to be easy for you to share a story about previous work experience while still sounding structured?

Yeah, that’s where it gets a little harder. Especially when you’re having trouble recalling a specific example to share.

First and foremost, remind yourself that everyone has been in this situation. Then, utilize the STAR strategy to help you come up with impressive answers to those questions nobody wants to partake in.

What is the STAR method?

Well, the STAR method stands for situation, task, action, and result. It will help you tell a story in the right format by utilizing these specific steps.

Situation: Use details to set the scene of your example.

Task: What was your responsibility in this situation?

Action: Share the step you took to address that responsibility.

Result: What outcomes came out of these actions?

With the four components of STAR, you can give the interviewer a narrative that is digestible and compelling. Interviewers ask these very specific questions to not only see how you would respond to this type of situation, but also because it helps them see what type of person you are and if you fit what they want in their company.

What questions can the STAR method assist you in?

If you are using a story to answer a question, it is likely that the STAR method will come in handy. This will most commonly happen starting with a specific scenario where they ask you to describe what you would do if you were caught in that situation and how you would handle it.

The most common openings these types of questions start with are:

Have you ever…

Tell me about a time when…

Describe a situation where…

Once you hear any of those words, prepare yourself to have your story ready.

How do you put the STAR method to use?

The first step is just knowing what the acronym stands for, then worrying about how you’re going to apply it to yourself. Now, start answering those four components.

Lay out the situation

When you get nervous it’s hard to not share tons of unnecessary details. All you need to do is set the scene of where you were and what was going on.  For example, if they ask you what you would do with an upset customer, you aren’t going to start sharing how you got the job 2 years prior.

Instead, paint a picture of the situation you were in at that time like, where were you, who was there, and what was the problem the customer had.

Put emphasis on the task that was needed to be done

Obviously, you’re sharing this story because you played a role in the situation. This is the part of your story where you make it clear how you fit into it.

Many confuse this with the action portion of the method. But this part’s main purpose is to give the specifics on where you fall into the scenario and what position you were in.

Describe how you acted in that situation

Now that it is clear to the interviewer what role you played in the situation, you can begin to explain how you went about the situation. What were the steps you completed to reach your goal?

Veer away from using phrases like “After doing some research…” or “I worked very hard on…” because this sounds glossed over and will not impress the interviewer.  

This is your opportunity to show how much contribution you had and what you specifically did. Whether you formed a plan, worked with a team, or used a piece of software, these are all details the interview wants to hear.

Finally, discuss the results

Now, it’s finally time to share how you made a change. What response came out of the way you handled the situation? That is the most important part to your answer and it’s common for the candidate to skip this step.

Overall, if you are sure to stay on track and follow each step of STAR method, you should have a successful response for the interview and feel confident rather than nervous.

Visit How to Up Your Chances in Scoring an Interview for some more input on having the smoothest interview possible.

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