STAR Method In A Nutshell

The STAR method is an interview technique that is used to answer behavioral interview questions. The STAR method is a technique that an interviewee can use to help prepare for behavioral or situational interview questions that assess important skills. STAR is an acronym comprised of four factors that make the question answering framework: situation, task, action, and result.

Understanding the STAR method

The method has important implications for behavioral interviewing. This is a form of interviewing where questions are asked about past behavior and how it contributed to overcoming challenging work situations.

The STAR method is ideal for anyone who has difficulty answering these questions using real-world examples. It can be used to demonstrate competency in a range of skills relating to problem-solving, creativity, public speaking, teamwork, and perseverance. 

Using the STAR method

STAR is an acronym comprised of four factors that make the question answering framework.

Here is a look at each.

S – Situation

Start by sharing the context in which you faced and then overcame a challenge. Context should preferably relate to relevant work experience. But for those with less job experience, referencing academic achievements or volunteer work is also useful.

Brevity is very important in setting the context. Only share what is required to adequately set the context for the interviewer.

T – Task

In other words, what role or responsibility did you hold in your chosen situation? What task did you have to complete? 

Tasks most often relate to hitting sales targets and resolving conflict. Again, it is vital to be succinct and avoid superfluous detail.

A – Action

What specific actions did your task entail? How did you overcome the challenge or handle the situation? This answer should be in-depth because it largely determines how suitable you are for similar roles.

Define the steps you took to achieve success, even if working as part of a team. While it may be tempting to describe the collective actions of the team, you must maintain a focus on the role that you played as part of the team.

R – Result

Lastly, explain the outcome(s) generated by the action taken. Outcomes may take the form of accomplishments, but it never hurts to mention what you learned as a result of the challenge itself.

Preparing for a job interview using the STAR method

With an understanding of how to structure questions, it is time to get more specific on the potential questions that may be asked.

To prepare, follow these steps:

  1. Review the job description. What sorts of challenges may arise during a typical workday? Evaluating the required or relevant skills may yield important clues.
  2. Review general, evergreen interview questions. Most interviewers will ask at least one question about time management, stress, or working under pressure.
  3. Write out past experiences. Using the STAR method as a guide, articulate past instances where a challenge was met and overcome.
  4. Read each experience out loud. Does it sound coherent? Is it concise? Does it address a required or relevant skill? Refine until you can speak about each experience confidently without referring to your notes.

Key takeaways:

  • The STAR method is a means of preparing for behavioral questions that will be asked in a job interview.
  • The STAR method is an acronym of four components vital to a thoughtful answer: situation, task, action, and result.
  • Preparing for an interview using the STAR method involves reviewing job requirements and common behavioral interview questions. Interview answers that are relevant to the position can then be formulated and refined.

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TOWS Matrix

The TOWS Matrix is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. The matrix is a variation on the SWOT Analysis, and it seeks to address criticisms of the SWOT Analysis regarding its inability to show relationships between the various categories.

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