The STAR Approach
Behavioral Questions and How to Prepare
Interviewers ask for examples of past situations with positive or negative results. You may be asked to describe a time when you contributed to a team, solved a problem, demonstrated leadership, dealt with an ethical decision, took a risk, overcame an obstacle, etc. You will need to describe the situation, the challenge, and the outcome (how you resolved the problem or how you learned from it). The idea is that past behavior is predictive of future behavior and future success. So it’s really important you come prepared to an interview ready to talk about your past experiences. Behavioral questions often start with “describe a time,” or “tell me about a time.”
Use the STAR Approach to tell your story by describing the:
- Situation refers to the challenge, problem, or issue you faced.
- Tasks refers to your role and responsibilities.
- Action referes to the behaviors you enacted and the skills you used.
- Result refers to the outcome, or what you accomplished.
Examples of behavioral interview questions include:
- Creativity: Describe a time when you came up with a creative solution/idea/project in your past work. What have been some of your most creative ideas?
- Initiative: What projects did you generate that went beyond your job description?
- Organization: Describe a time when you had to make a difficult choice between your personal and professional life.
- Communication:Give an example of when you effectively communicated a difficult or unpleasant idea to a superior or colleague
STAR In Practice
Describe a situation in which you led a group of people.
Situation/Task: Last year I was the chairperson of my sorority's philanthropy committee. I led a committee of 10 people in organizing and promoting events that benefitted Save the Children, the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund, and the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School's after school tutoring program.
Action: I was responsible for leading weekly meetings, delegating assignments to committee members, and motivating the entire 150 member sorority to get involved with our philanthropic activities. Office of Personal & Career Development STAR Interview Approach Instructions
Result: During the year we held two fundraisers each semester---one for Save the Children and one for Brian Piccolo---and raised over $5,000 for each organization, which was a 20% increase over the previous year. I also arranged for two sorority members to volunteer in the after school tutoring program each week, which enabled elementary school students to improve their reading and math skills. While in the position I not only developed my communication, organization, and management skills, but also gained a greater awareness of the importance of community.
To really master the STAR Method you’ll need to practice –a lot –because the more you practice the better you’ll get at talking about each of your experiences. The goal should be to tell a story that includes all four STAR pieces that sounds sincere and natural.