Behavioral Interviewing and the STAR Method of Answering Interview Questions

About Behavioral Interviewing and the STAR Method

Behavioral Interviewing is a popular method for finding the right fit for an organization. The basic premise is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is understanding past performance in a similar situation. It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related.

The STAR method provides a logical approach to answering questions by describing one of your past successes in responding to the question.

What is STAR

STAR = Situation – Task – Action – Results

Situation 
Describe the situation that you were in (what was the problem you needed to solve).  This can be from a previous job, volunteer experience or any other relevant event in your personal life. Make sure you describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand.

Task 

What was the task that you needed to accomplish (the solution to the problem)

Action

Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did — not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Results you achieved
What happened? What was the outcome? What did you learn? Discuss how the task was successful as a result of your action.

This gives the interviewer a story that tells them about you and what kind of employee you are, which is much  more powerful than just telling them.

How To Use the STAR Method for Behavioral Interviewing

In order to be successful in behavioral interviewing:

1. Wait until the interviewer is finished asking the question, pause and think about the question and your story before answsering the question.

2. Make sure you answer the question completely. If they ask a question with “and why” make sure you explain why.

3. Use examples of situations from your experiences on your resume where you demonstrated desired behaviors.

4. State your answer as a story that you can tell.

5. Be specific and detailed. Make sure the story relates to the question and isn’t too general. Briefly tell them about the situation, what you did specifically, and the positive result or outcome. Your answer should contain these four steps Situation, Task, Action, Result or “STAR”) for optimum success.

6. Quantify your results. Give specific numbers whenever possible. For example: “I was a supervisor.” could be “As Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 6 employees.”

What To Do With Your Hands and Arms When Speaking

85% of what you communicate is not with words. It’s through the tone of your voice, the way you sit and a wealth of other messages that your body involuntarily sends.

Stand up straight… that’s easy.  Smile… also, hopefully not too difficult.  But one of the most awkward problems people have with confident body language is what to do with their hands and arms?!?

  • Clasping your hands is a signal that you are closed off.
  • Putting your palms together with one thumb over the other says that you need reassurance.
  • You should never cross your arms over your chest, since this gives the impression that you are not in agreement, closed off, defensive or insecure.
  • Open hands and showing palms show that nothing is being concealed.

To come across confident, have your hands open and relaxed on the table or at your side. When your body is open, you project trustworthiness and will actually feel more confident. It is ok to use some hand gestures while speaking, as long as they’re in sync with what you’re saying, and not too wild.