Answer Behavioral Interview Questions with the STAR Technique
by Lisa McGrimmon
Behavioral interview questions can be effectively answered using the STAR interview technique. This technique provides you with a framework to tell a story that highlights your ability to manage specific, challenging, work related situations.
To develop great answers to behavioral interview questions, follow these simple steps:
Situation or Task Action Result
In general, to use the technique, you would:
describe a challenging, work related situation or task
describe the actions you took to resolve the situation or complete the task
and describe the positive results of your actions
Answering Behavioral Interview Questions Using The STAR Interview Technique
Situation (or) Task
Describe a specific, challenging, work related situation that you resolved or task that you accomplished.
Sometimes behavioral questions are neutral, such as, "Tell me about a time when you worked as a part of a team." Other times employers ask about a negative or challenging situation, like, "Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer."
You have to be extra careful with these negative behavior based interview questions.
In your answer, avoid spending a lot of time describing the problem; it will come across in a negative way. I've conducted hundreds of mock interviews with clients, and spending far too long discussing the problem is an extremely common mistake when people are first learning to use the STAR interview technique.
State the problem or situation as briefly as you can while still ensuring that the employer understands the situation.
Be very specific. Avoid answers like, "I have always worked as a part of a team." That's just too general to make a big impression on an employer.
Job candidates who tell effective stories about specific, work related situations which they handled well stand out and make a much more powerful impression on employers than candidates who provide only general answers.
Do not discuss a situation if you are angry about it. No matter how careful you are, your anger will show and make a negative impression.
Also, do not discuss a problem that arose due to your mistake. Your example should involve a challenging situation that you are not angry about and that arose through no fault of your own.
Choose a situation that is as similar as possible to the type of work situations you would likely encounter at the job you are seeking.
Describe, in detail, the positive and appropriate action you took to resolve the issue or get the task completed.
This step should be the focus of your answer.
Providing good details about your appropriate actions shows the employer that you know how to take appropriate steps to resolve work related issues.
Describe the positive result of your action.
The result of your actions must be positive. If there was no positive result, DO NOT tell that story. Choose another situation that was successfully resolved, and apply the STAR technique to describe that situation.
Don't forget this step in the technique. Describing the positive result of your actions shows that your actions were correct and appropriate.
Forgetting to mention the positive result is another very common mistake when people use the STAR interview technique.
The STAR interview technique is that simple. Be prepared to use it at your next interview; it's the most effective way to answer behavioral interview questions.