STAR Interview Questions
Are you having difficulty answering interview questions in a concise manner? When interviewing, how can you share your accomplishments without appearing boastful? How can you demonstrate to the interviewer that you are the best candidate? As we all know, job interview questions can be stressful at times, but some are more difficult to answer than others. When ranked by difficulty level, behavioral questions would probably rank first for most people.
If this is also the case for you, you will be delighted with the STAR method. Situation, Task, Action, and Result are the four pillars of the STAR acronym. Preparing for behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions can be accomplished using the STAR interview method. By answering interview questions this way, you will be able to provide concrete examples of your experience and skills for the job without sounding boastful. The following STAR method examples will assist you in preparing clear and concise responses.
Throughout this article, we will take a look at what is the STAR method, as well as 30+ of the most common STAR interview questions and answers that can be encountered during behavioral interviews.
STAR Method Interview Questions: Tips and Sample Answers
Questions about STAR Method
1. What does STAR stand for? Explain it.
A STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
- Situation: Give details about the situation and your example.
- Task: Outline your responsibilities in that situation.
- Action: Describe how you resolved the problem.
- Result: Explain the outcome of the actions you took.
A STAR interview method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) offers a straightforward format for structuring your responses. Using this technique of interviewing, you will have the ability to tell your story in a simple, straightforward manner by outlining the Situation, Task, Action, and Result of the situation. It is particularly helpful to use this strategy when answering a competency-based question in a job interview. By keeping these four components in mind, you are much more likely to provide the interviewer with a concise, compelling narrative of what you have accomplished.
- During my time at my last employer, I was eager to advance into the position of a senior software engineer as soon as possible, so that I would have a better grasp of the technology. (Situation)
- Having been there for over two years, I set a target of completing my goal in three years. So I only had a year to achieve it. (Task)
- During this period, I worked diligently to enhance my skills and knowledge, as well as take on more challenging projects. Even though I had no prior experience with such projects, I tried to deliver superior quality. (Action)
- My supervisor finally put me at ease and I got promoted within period of six months of setting that goal. (Result)
2. Can you tell me about one of your proudest professional accomplishments?
This question allows employers to determine whether you have the skills and work ethics they are looking for and if your attitude fits into their culture. Choosing your greatest achievement will demonstrate what is important to you, and how you achieved it will reveal your work style. You will be able to convey both your hard and soft skills in answering this question.
- Take pride in your work, but don't flaunt your accomplishments. When answering, be sure to provide examples and explain your thought process.
- Your reply to the interview should be pragmatic and reflect your approach to success and hard work, and make sure you sound down to earth.
- It is recommended that you use the STAR method to structure your answer for clarity.
During my last employment, our technology development team had to let go of one of our colleagues due to relocation. (Situation)
His role was to lead the iOS development of the app. No one else on the team had experience developing apps for iOS. Since I had developed iOS apps in the past, I volunteered to take the lead on the app development process. (Task)
Together with the other team members, I worked on creating and troubleshooting the new application. (Action)
It took me 40 days to complete the development ahead of schedule. As of now, it has over 220 positive reviews in the iTunes Store, offering the company another revenue stream. (Result)
Question about Problem Solving
1. When have you been faced with a challenging situation? What solution did you come up with?
Interviewers ask this question to find out how you handle challenges in the workplace. Take a moment to think about the last time you faced a challenge and overcame it. You may also discuss an experience that has helped you learn more about your craft and improve your performance.
I was working on a project with my team, and one of our team members decided to quit the team in the middle of the project due to personal reasons. (Situation)
I know that in any case, I had to finish the project to keep the organization's reputation intact. (Task)
However, I went to the other member and we agreed to divide the remaining work equally. We went above and beyond to complete the tasks until we reached our goal. (Action)
Despite the tight deadline, we were able to complete the project on time. (Result)
2. When was the last time a client asked you for the impossible? What was your approach to explaining this to them?
As part of the interview process, the interviewer may ask how you deal with difficult clients so they can gain a deeper understanding of your client service skills. With this question, you will be evaluated specifically on your problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and ability to deal with stress and diffuse tense situations.
A client asked for a complex feature to be delivered within an unrealistic timeframe. (Situation)
I had to explain the challenges and limitations of the project and suggest a more feasible approach. (Task)
I made sure to listen carefully to the client's requirements and concerns, explained to them the technical challenges involved, and highlighted the risks of rushing the development process. (Action)
The client appreciated my transparent communication, agreed on a more realistic timeline, and the project was completed successfully within the new timeline. (Result)
3. Have you ever had to correct a mistake made by a superior? What was your approach to that situation?
The interviewer wants to know how you would handle a potentially uncomfortable situation with a superior. Explain your thought process and the action you would take in response to this question. Ensure that your answer demonstrates your professional approach to the potential employer.
I identified a mistake made by my superior in a software project. (Situation)
I took the task upon myself to correct the mistake and communicate the issue to my superior. (Task)
Firstly, I reviewed the code and identified the issue in detail. Then, I discussed the mistake with my superior in a professional and respectful manner, providing evidence and suggesting possible solutions. (Action)
My superior acknowledged the mistake and appreciated my input. Together, we corrected the issue and implemented necessary changes to prevent similar mistakes in the future. The project was completed successfully with improved quality. (Result)
4. How do you cope with sudden workplace changes?
The purpose of asking this question is to learn more about how you cope in a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment. Interviewers may want to know that you are confident and poised as you face these challenges. They may also be interested in hearing how you have used those skills in a previous role.
As a software developer, I have faced sudden workplace changes in the past multiple times. (Situation)
I cope with sudden workplace changes by following a few key strategies. (Task)
Firstly, I assess the impact of the change and the tasks that need to be completed. Next, I communicate with my team members and seek their opinions and suggestions to better adapt to the changes. I also stay organized by breaking down my tasks into smaller manageable units and prioritizing them accordingly. Finally, I remain flexible and adaptable to adjust to the new situation. (Action)
By following these strategies, I have been able to cope effectively with sudden workplace changes and ensure that my work is completed efficiently and effectively. (Result)
Question about Teamwork
1. Has there ever been a conflict between you and a co-worker? What solutions did you come up with?
When handling such behavioral questions, it is essential to be careful. Collaboration and the ability to resolve conflict can increase productivity and foster a more pleasant working environment. It is therefore necessary for you to clearly describe the conflict and how you resolved it in your answer. It is important for you to be respectful and not bad-mouth the co-worker no matter how enraging the situation was. The outcome should be clearly stated.
Once, a team member thought my method of tackling a project was incorrect. The way he came across sounded harsh to me. (Situation)
Having to cooperate on this project was going to be a challenge, and the person wasn't too thrilled about the idea, to be honest. While explaining something to them, they would often interrupt me. (Task)
I chose not to get mad at them but instead politely asked them if they had any other suggestions that might work. They shared their thoughts, and we discussed them as a team. They gave us a better idea and we decided to go with it as a team. (Action)
As a result, we recorded better results. We also sorted out our misunderstanding in the process and we became good friends. (Result)
2. When was the last time you worked with another department to complete a project?
Often interviewers ask these questions when cross-functional teamwork is a critical component of their work environment. Among the teamwork skills you want to remember are active listening, communication, conflict management, developing consensus, encouraging others to pull their weight, and so on.
At my previous company, we had the C-suite of Marketing and Operations, Creative Services, the Content and Communications department, and Consumer Insights. (Situation)
We had to work with them to understand the business requirements better for developing new software applications. Collaboration across departments was an integral part of our work all of the time. (Task)
We came up with a plan to meet on a weekly basis to discuss bigger projects and then collaborate throughout the rest of the week based on our needs. (Action)
In all, the set-up proved to be excellent and helped to ensure the smooth progress of the project at every stage. (Result)
3. Do you have any strategies for dealing with coworkers who are too incompetent or unwilling to cooperate?
Many employers ask about your experience handling difficult coworkers in order to assess how well you handle them. It is important to be respectful while answering this. You may be asked if you are a team player who can work well with others or if you enjoy any type of interpersonal relationship. It is common for organizations to look for people who can cope with difficult situations and are able to remain calm in the midst of them.
As a client support specialist, I and my coworker were responsible for contacting clients to verify login information. (Situation)
Unfortunately, we miscommunicated how the client list should be divided up between the two of us. Originally, I thought I would get in touch with clients with names A through K; and my colleague hoped to get in touch with clients with names L through Z. We were not on the same page regarding this and it caused confusion amongst us. It also caused confusion and frustration for our clients as we contacted them twice. (Task)
As we both expressed our frustrations with one another, we both admitted that we misheard one another. For future projects like this, I suggested using a color-coded spreadsheet that represented who would work with what clients. (Action)
The new system has been working well for us since this incident, and we have not had any similar issues. (Result)
Questions about Communication Skills
1. Do you ever have to make unpopular decisions? What did you do?
The downside of managing or leading involves making decisions that not everyone agrees with. It is important to tell the interviewer that although you made a decision to press forward, you were very careful to communicate with the other employees and even increase their support.
When I was working at my previous job, I was assigned to supervise a small team of coworkers for a huge project. (Situation)
Since the project was huge, it could significantly impact the company's reputation, and it needed to be completed quickly. (Task)
Due to time constraints, we were unable to complete the project during the week, so we decided to work on Saturdays to finish it by guaranteeing incentives to my team for their hard work. As soon as I broke the news of overtime work to my coworkers, they complained and developed resentment against me. But I assured them of proper incentives and made them understand why it was important to gain that deal. (Action)
As a result, my team was convinced and they onboarded to complete the project and we even successfully managed to acquire new clients. Additionally, my team was rewarded for their work with incentives and due recognition. At the end, everyone was happy. (Result)
2. Can you tell me about a time when you disagreed with your manager and how you resolved the matter?
Basically, this particular question is designed to test the level of communication skills you have. Interviewers are looking for several qualities in your response, including emotional maturity, validity, loyalty, and responsibility.
There was once a disagreement between me and my manager over the best way to assist an intern. (Situation)
To avoid confronting him in front of everyone, I spoke off the floor with him instead. I explained my concerns about his behavior openly and honestly. (Task)
During the course of the conversation, it became apparent that there had been a simple misunderstanding. (Action)
A disagreement with my colleagues taught me the importance of communication to prevent bigger problems. (Result)
3. Have you ever persuaded someone to do something?
Interviewers use this question to assess your ability to persuade. You will be asked to describe specific situations and actions in which you were able to influence others.
During my previous job as a software developer, I noticed that one of my colleagues was not following the best practices for code documentation. (Situation)
It was important to me that we maintain consistency in our team's code quality and documentation, so I needed to persuade my colleague to change his approach. (Task)
I approached my colleague and explained my concerns about the lack of documentation in his code. I also highlighted the benefits of maintaining high-quality code and how it could save time in the long run. To persuade him, I shared some best practices, provided examples, and offered to assist him with any questions or concerns he may have had. (Action)
My colleague was initially hesitant to change his approach, but after listening to my suggestions and seeing the benefits, he agreed to improve the documentation in his code. As a result, the code quality improved, and we were able to collaborate more efficiently on future projects. (Result)
4. Do you have experience motivating others? What steps did you take to achieve this?
The purpose of this question is to determine whether you are capable of working in a team environment and motivating your coworkers. Being able to influence others around you will help you fit in well with any team. Do not forget to mention the result of your motivation.
During my last position, a member of my team was never fully committed to the project thereby impacting their deliverables. (Situation)
It took conscious effort on my part to visit their desk every morning in order to understand what they were going through and motivate them. (Task)
They opened up to me about their problems and how they were unable to focus due to lack of confidence. I motivated them consistently by highlighting how their skills were crucial for the project we were working on and provided regular feedback on their progress. (Action)
As time went on, they began to express their opinions and suggest original, creative ideas during staff meetings. They felt valued and recognized which boosted their self-confidence and at the end, things worked well for our team too. (Result)
Questions about Self-management Skills
1. When was the last time you had to be highly strategic to achieve a goal?
In asking this question, the interviewer is interested in learning how you deal with priorities as well as the ability to work under pressure. A key work competency for individual contributors and managers alike is the ability to prioritize confidently in the face of the incapacity to complete all tasks.
Since my job involved a number of competing priorities, it was often very challenging to determine what was most critical and urgent in order to carry out my duties. (Situation)
My manager and I worked out a scale for judging the importance and urgency of a task so that it's clear what should take the highest priority from the start. (Task)
Priority was given to things that are both important and urgent (IU). Next was important and not urgent (INU), followed by urgent and not important (UNI), and lastly not important and not urgent (NINU). I received requests from my manager labelled as IU, INU, UNI, and NINU when the rating system was in use. (Action)
Due to this prioritization rating system, my overall productivity increased considerably over the past year. (Result)
2. Tell us about a time you failed. Have you learned anything from this experience?
If the interviewer specifically asks for a work-related example, try to recall a long-gone incident that is related to your job role. It is best to choose a story in which something significant didn't go according to plan as a result of your actions (or lack of actions)—not something more trivial.
Early in my career as a software developer, I was tasked with developing a new feature for a web application. (Situation)
I was responsible for developing the feature within a specific timeline and ensuring that it worked seamlessly with the existing application. (Task)
I approached the task with enthusiasm and started coding immediately. However, I realized after a few days that my code was not working correctly, and I was unable to identify the source of the issue. Realizing my mistake, I reached out to my supervisor and explained the problem. He was able to help me debug the code and identify the issue. (Action)
Unfortunately, because of the time it took to debug the code, we missed the deadline for the feature's launch. I learned that I should have approached the task more systematically, taking more time to plan and test my code before starting to code. (Result)
3. Can you recall your first job? How did you learn the ropes and adapt to your new environment?
By asking this question, the interviewers want to know how you work with individuals who have different personalities, and how you motivate individuals to become personally invested in the job or project beyond just a paycheck. Their interest is in seeing how you cope with job-related challenges and learning from them.
My first job as a software developer was at a small software development company. I was fresh out of college and eager to apply my skills in a professional setting. (Situation)
My task was to develop a new feature for an existing web application, which required me to learn the company's coding standards and work processes. (Task)
To learn the ropes, I spent the first few days observing and asking questions about the company's coding practices and processes. I also familiarized myself with the codebase by reading the existing code. Once I had a good understanding of the company's work processes and coding standards, I started working on the new feature. I made sure to communicate regularly with my supervisor and colleagues, asking for feedback on my code and how I could improve it. (Action)
Through my hard work and dedication, I was able to complete the new feature on time and to the satisfaction of my supervisor and colleagues. (Result)
Questions about Creativity Thinking Skills
1. When was the last time you took charge and demonstrated initiative to manage a situation?
Interviewers ask this question to determine if you are a self-starter with a strong desire to innovate. Whether you put your best effort into something out of your own desire, not out of obligation.
Recently, I was working on a project that had a tight deadline. As we approached the deadline, we realized that there were some missing requirements that had not been addressed. (Situation)
My task was to take charge of the situation and ensure that we could meet the deadline by addressing these missing requirements. (Task)
I took the initiative to convene a meeting with the project team and stakeholders to discuss the missing requirements. During the meeting, I asked questions and took notes to ensure that everyone was on the same page. After the meeting, I identified the tasks that needed to be completed and assigned them to the team members. I made sure to provide regular updates to the stakeholders, keeping them informed of our progress. (Action)
Through my proactive approach, we were able to address the missing requirements and meet the project deadline. The stakeholders were pleased with our work and appreciated our efforts to keep them informed. (Result)
2. Tell us about a situation in which you used logic or data to make a recommendation.
Employers usually ask this question so they can assess your critical thinking skills, including your ability to handle unexpected obstacles. The hiring manager often values employees who are able to apply logic to determine the most appropriate course of action in various situations. You can demonstrate your problem-solving skills by providing concrete examples of how you could fit into an organization.
During my tenure in my previous organization, I analyzed datasets daily to research competitor strategies. (Situation)
The monthly sales of significant competitors increased by 5% during a high-traffic month, which deviated substantially from our forecasts at the time. (Task)
With updated market research and key historical data, I determined our competitor analytics model would produce more accurate forecasts going forward. (Action)
With multiple tests of each adjustment, I was able to increase our forecast accuracy by 20%. (Result)
3. When was the last time you set a goal and achieved it?
Specifically, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of your ambitions and initiative by asking this question. It is likely that the hiring manager is attempting to determine if you have the ability to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. It might be a good idea to emphasize your planning skills in an effort to show what you are capable of and distinguish yourself from other candidates.
As a software developer, I wanted to improve my skills in a specific programming language that I had only a basic knowledge of. (Situation)
My task was to set a goal to improve my skills in this programming language and then achieve that goal through dedicated practice. (Task)
To achieve my goal, I started by setting a specific and measurable target for my improvement. I then identified online resources and practice exercises that would help me achieve my goal. I dedicated a specific amount of time each day to practising my skills in the programming language, and I tracked my progress regularly to stay motivated. (Action)
Through my dedication and consistent effort, I was able to achieve my goal and improve my skills in the programming language significantly. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and was proud of myself for achieving this goal. (Result)
4. Describe a time when you failed to meet a client's expectations. What steps did you take to deal with the situation?
Candidates are often challenged with this question since it forces them to talk about failure. Interviewers aren't just interested in how you failed; they are also interested in why you failed. Most of the time, the answer lies in the circumstances and the blame game that follows. Are you accountable for not meeting a deadline? Or is it all the fault of others? It is important to answer respectfully and not to be a part of the blame game.
At my current job, I have both a dotted line manager and a direct line manager to work with. As a result of an urgent firefighting request made by my dotted line manager, I had to interrupt my primary project in order to meet that request. (Situation)
Although my direct line manager approved it, it put me behind my primary delivery deadline. I eventually resolved the firefighting issue and completed my primary project despite having been delayed for over a week, leading to frustration with this client. (Task)
Upon discussing this with my direct line manager, we agreed to include contingency buffers in future projects to enable me to divert to the dotted line department if necessary. (Action)
Also, I talked with my dotted line manager about the possibility of training someone else so that I wouldn't have to handle these kinds of situations on my own. (Result)
Questions about Time-management Skills
1. Describe a situation in which you exceeded your duties for a job or task.
In asking this question, interviewers want to know that you will go the extra mile when possible, specifically in ways that will benefit them and their team. Further, this question shows interviewers whether or not you're motivated and if you simply settle for "good enough" rather than striving for greatness.
Having been promoted to a senior software developer in my last role, I was in charge of leading a major client's project. The client requested a particularly unique feature that would normally take a month to complete but I had to finish it in three weeks. (Situation)
Since it was my first project post-promotion, I agreed to complete this. Afterwards, I realized that it would take me a while to finish it and make it of high quality. (Task)
Right away, I contacted the client and requested an extension by providing a detailed presentation on why it would take longer., which they generously granted. With my extensive research and regular follow-ups, I was able to work with the team and make sure the wireframes were created for the website/app and finalized. (Action)
The project was completed and delivered before the extended deadline. However, I learned to manage my time more efficiently and to never overpromise on something that I am unable to deliver. (Result)
2. Is there any time you have been under a lot of pressure at work? What did you do in response?
Interviewers use this question to determine how you cope with various stressful workplace situations. This means you should emphasize your skills and use real-life examples to demonstrate your competence.
During my previous job as a software developer, we had a tight deadline for a project that had to be delivered within a month. (Situation)
As a part of the team, I was responsible for developing a complex module that required a lot of coding and debugging. (Task)
To deal with the pressure, I broke down the project into smaller achievable tasks and created a schedule with daily and weekly goals. I worked on the most important and time-sensitive tasks first and then delegated some of the less critical tasks to junior developers in the team, which helped to reduce my workload. I also communicated regularly with my team leader to keep him informed about my progress and any potential issues that may arise. (Action)
By managing my time effectively, I was able to complete the module on time and deliver it to the team leader for review. The team leader was impressed with my ability to work well under pressure, and the module received positive feedback from both the team leader and the client. (Result)
3. Employees are sometimes overburdened by their employers. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by work? What did you do in this situation?
An interviewer uses this question to determine if you are capable of handling heavy workloads and high volumes. Your well-prepared answer would demonstrate your maturity and ability to work beyond your contracted hours when necessary. A prospective employer wants to know how you handle tough situations.
The latest version of our product, which was released last year, was incredibly buggy. (Situation)
As a member of the front-line customer support team, the first two weeks after the release probably were one of the most challenging times for me. The line was always crowded with people waiting. In the course of the two weeks, you ended one call just to begin another, and I did not stop at all during that time. (Task)
However, I knew that it was a temporary situation, that the engineering team was working hard to fix the bugs, and that a critical update was on its way. So, I patiently took part in supporting the clients along with coordinating with the engineering team regarding the release updates. (Action)
The release with bug fixes happened exactly after 2 weeks and the customer support team survived the tough period, and things returned to normal afterwards. (Result)
How to Answer Star Interview Questions
1. Steps to prepare your STAR interview response
- Make sure your response is relevant to the job description. Consider what skills and qualities are most important for the role and how they relate to your position, then choose stories that demonstrate these qualities.
- Pick a few examples that are both strong and versatile. Prepare a few stories you can tweak and adapt for different questions based on your experiences.
- To ensure your answer feels natural and comfortable, practice it in a mirror or mock interview before the interview.
- Embrace the opportunity to show how your contribution made a difference. Include the EXACT results of your actions, use numbers and data to support your claim, and mention what you learned from the experience.
To put it simply, behavioral interview questions are based on how you would likely behave if you were faced with a certain situation in the future. A behavioral interview, along with a coding test and a technical interview, will be used by the hiring manager to determine if your past performance can assist you in putting your best foot forward in your new role, as well as determining if you have what it takes to succeed there.
A concise way of answering behavioral questions is through the STAR method. In short, the STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, and it helps you create a story that's easy to follow and has a clear conflict and resolution. In sharing your stories, make sure you specify a situation, task, action, and result, and emphasize skills and abilities most relevant to the job. You may be asked to share non-work-related examples, so think about challenges you have overcome personally.