The STAR interview method

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The STAR interview method is a technique used by interviewers to gather all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires. The acronym STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result1.
  • Situation: The interviewer wants you to present a recent challenging situation in which you found yourself. This provides context for the rest of your response1.
  • Task: This refers to what you were required to achieve in the situation. The interviewer will be looking to see what you were trying to achieve from the situation. Some performance development methods use “Target” rather than “Task”1.
  • Action: This is about what you did in response to the situation. The interviewer will be looking for information on what you did, why you did it, and what the alternatives were1.
  • Result: This refers to the outcome of your actions. What did you achieve through your actions? Did you meet your objectives? What did you learn from this experience? Have you used this learning since?1.
The STAR technique is often complemented with an additional R on the end (STARR or STAR(R)) with the last R resembling reflection. This R aims to gather insight into the interviewee's ability to learn and iterate. It helps the interviewer understand what the interviewee learned from the experience and how they would assimilate experiences1. The STAR method is used in behavioral interviewing, which is about gathering real-life examples of past behavior to understand a candidate’s skill set beyond their resume2. It can be used by job candidates during a job interview to answer behavioral questions, such as “Tell me about a time when you …” or “Describe a situation in which you …”2. On the other end of the table, recruiters and interviewers can ask STAR method interview questions to predict how a candidate will perform in a given job if hired2. The STAR method is also used in resumes. A STAR method resume uses the same format as the interview answer — it’s just written rather than verbal2. In a STAR method interview, a great candidate will include all four elements while keeping their answer succinct. The entire story should last just 2–3 minutes2. The STAR method prevents candidates from simply saying what they think the recruiter wants to hear. Candidates must instead back their claims with evidence2.
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