Use the STAR method to win behavioral questions


Lan Nguyen

Marketing Executive

In this article...

    Behavioral questions are a commonly used interviewing technique because they provide interviewers with valuable insights into a candidate's past behavior and capabilities, helping them make more informed hiring decisions.

    If you are struggling to answer those questions that start with "Tell me the time when you...?", this article can help you out!

    What is a behavioral question?

    Behavioral questions are interview queries that ask candidates to give particular instances of their prior actions, encounters, or successes. To forecast how candidates will act in comparable circumstances in the future, these questions are intended to elicit replies that demonstrate how they have handled specific situations in the past.

    What is the STAR method?

    The Situation, Task, Action, and Outcome (STAR) approach is an interview technique that provides you with a simple structure to tell a story.

    • Situation: explain the circumstances surrounding your predicament.
    • Task: describe the particular task or difficulty you encountered in that circumstance.
    • Action: describe the steps you took to deal with the assignment or difficulty.
    • Result: Lastly, talk about how your activities turned out and any lessons you might have learned.

    Let's dive deeper into how to use this method to win your interview!

    When should I use the STAR method?

    Most particularly, the STAR method is used to answer behavioral questions, but this structure is also helpful when answering other types of questions. Put another way, when a prompt asks you to give a specific example of how you handled a particular type of issue in the past, use the STAR technique.

    The detailed guide to using the STAR method

    It goes beyond only assisting you in providing the interviewer with a meaningful description of your skill set. Remember that, the goal when answering the question is to help the interviewer understand how you have applied your abilities to produce the desired outcome.

    When you respond to a question by saying, "I increase the company's revenue," for instance, that's fantastic, but it doesn't really signify anything. You must describe how you increased revenue and the implications for the business. By doing this, you provide the interviewer with additional details about your background, abilities, and problem-solving methodology.


    Set the stage for your interviewer right away. It's easy to include a ton of extraneous information, especially when your nerves get the better of you. However, the hiring manager doesn't really need to know the details of how you brought in the client three years prior if they ask you to share a tale about a time you didn't live up to their expectations, for instance.

    Here, you want to make sure the interviewer understands the rest of your response by providing a clear picture of the circumstance you were in. Remain succinct and concentrate on the points that are unquestionably pertinent to your narrative and the interview question you are addressing. Career coach Emma Flowers states that the STAR approach is intended to be straightforward. People occasionally give too detailed answers that are too lengthy. Concentrate on a single or double sentence for every letter in the acronym.

    For example, when facing the question "tell me about a time when you have to work under a tight deadline", here is how you can start answer: "Sure, I can provide an example from my previous role at XYZ Company. We were working on a project to launch a new product, and we had a tight deadline to meet to stay ahead of our competitors. The situation arose when our development timeline was unexpectedly shortened due to a change in market conditions. We were given only two weeks to finalize the product design, create marketing materials, and prepare for the launch event."


    There's a reason you're sharing this story: you were fundamentally involved in it. This is the section of your response where you explain to the interviewer how and where you fit in.

    This and the response's "action" section are often confused. Before you get into what you really did, though, let me to explain what your exact responsibilities were in that precise scenario and whatever goals you may have had to meet.

    Example to continue the answer above: "Given the shortened timeline, the task at hand was to ensure that we met all project milestones and delivered a high-quality product on time. As the project lead, I immediately convened a meeting with the team to reevaluate our project plan and identify areas where we could streamline our processes. We broke down the remaining tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks and assigned clear responsibilities to each team member. Additionally, I communicated the urgency of the situation to stakeholders and secured their buy-in for any necessary adjustments to the project scope or resources."


    Here's your opportunity to truly highlight your work, which merits some further details. Pay close attention to detail and make sure you provide sufficient details regarding the actions you took. Worked you with a certain team? Make use of a specific software? Create a thorough plan? Your interviewer is interested in knowing those kinds of things.

    Example to continue the answer above: "To meet the tight deadline, I took several actions to streamline our processes and maximize efficiency. I facilitated daily stand-up meetings to keep everyone aligned on goals and progress, and I provided regular feedback and support to team members to ensure they had the resources they needed to succeed. Additionally, I implemented agile project management techniques, such as using Kanban boards and timeboxing tasks, to prioritize and track our progress in real time. I also encouraged open communication and collaboration among team members, fostering a positive and supportive work environment despite the pressure of the deadline."


    This is the most important part of the answer, as you are showing what the meaning of your work is and what you have achieved. Remember that interviewers are interested in learning why your work was significant in addition to what you accomplished. Thus, be careful to emphasize any outcomes you were able to attain and, if possible, quantify them. There is always power in numbers. You can also include any long-term consequences of your efforts. For example, did you or your team come up with a new method for finishing a task or communicating? Did you and your client continue your contract? Did your presentation receive positive feedback?

    Naturally, you shouldn't be sharing this story if the outcome isn't favorable. Does that imply that you can't share tales of difficulties or that every circumstance you discuss has to have turned out perfectly? Not at all. Even so, be sure to close on a positive note by discussing the lessons you took away from the experience and the actions you did to move forward.

    Example to continue the answer above: "As a result of these actions, we were able to successfully meet the tight deadline and launch the product on schedule. Despite the challenges we faced, our team remained cohesive and focused, and we delivered a high-quality product that exceeded customer expectations. The successful launch not only contributed to increased revenue for the company but also strengthened our team's confidence and collaboration skills. Furthermore, the positive outcome of this project solidified my reputation as a reliable and effective leader within the organization."


    Behavioral interviews continue to be a mainstay of the employment process since they offer insightful information about candidates' prior experiences, actions, and skills. Interviewers can evaluate candidates' appropriateness for a post more successfully by using the STAR technique and structured questions, which focus on specific instances rather than ambiguous hypotheticals. 

    This method helps forecast future performance and organizational culture fit in addition to fostering fairness and consistency in evaluations. Behavioral interviewing is still a trustworthy and useful method for finding top talent and making wise hiring decisions even as the recruiting industry changes.answer