Behavioral Interviewing: How to use the STAR Method

CoachHub · 1 February 2023 · 7 min read

The experience of having to be interviewed for a job is such a stressful thing. While there may be more jobs than people think, it isn’t always easy to complete the process of getting them. Most people can’t relate to the experience of sitting across from an interviewer with little preparation. The questions usually seem to come out of nowhere, so warming up may not be any good. Still, what if there was a simple method called the STAR method that could fix all of these problems?

In the job selection space, many interviewers and potential employers implore the use of behavioral interviewing. This is essentially an assessment of past experiences to see if a candidate is fit for a position. The idea is that most people do not change their behaviors. For example, an employer would rather hire someone who has worked well with tense deadlines before, than someone who is willing to learn how to do so. This is regardless of the candidate’s potential.

Even with this knowledge, the STAR method may not be mastered in a moment. However, thanks to this comprehensive guide, anyone can learn and understand the STAR format. Being able to understand interview questions and navigating them can go a long way towards securing your dream job. A digital coach can provide this knowledge, as well as any other thing you need to know about the STAR interview method.

STAR method

What is the STAR method?

STAR is an acronym that provides the best way to answer STAR interview questions. This makes it easier to remember. All you have to do is answer based on what each letter means.

  • Situation (S): The first thing to do is lay out a setting. This gives your employer a good idea of what situation you were in.
  • Task (T): Next comes the task at hand. Explain in detail what you had to do in that situation.
  • Action (A): The plan of action shows how you were able to overcome the task given to you.
  • Result (R): Lastly, do not be afraid to talk about what you were able to accomplish.

It’s really that simple. The STAR method can find its use in the search for a remote job. As remote jobs become even more sought after, this interview method is often what stands in the gap between success and failure. Answering with the STAR format, especially without prompting is something that is sure to be taken note of. It can give the employer a complete idea of how competent you are, as well as show the employer the range of your experience and expertise.

There are very a bunch of questions that can be answered using the STAR method. STAR interview questions have quite a range, but they can be detected easily. Usually, they involve some kind of explanation on your part. An example involves an employer asking what you would do in a certain situation. This sort of behavioral interview question, while set in the present, can be answered with a past experience.

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Preparing for a STAR-based interview

Just like any test, there are certain ways to prepare, even when using the STAR method. Quite a number of STAR method examples involve some amount of preparation. As a prospective employee, you have tailor responses to the job at hand. Offering only generic examples might lead you nowhere when you possess a collection of relevant experiences. These should be your first options for behavioral interviews. Any of irrelevant examples should either be used as add-ons, or not be used at all.

You need to know that you don’t always have to be in front of the interviewer to test out the STAR method. In fact, the very first time you try it out should be in the comfort of your own home, in solitude. This first try will offer the foundation that all your future learning will be based on. Other helpful tips include;

  • Sorting and outlining your experiences.
  • Thinking of ways the interviewer could phrase a question.
  • Practicing your communication skills.

Full preparation can be done with the aid of a digital coach. A digital coach will know the right skills that are required for each job. This gives you an advantage, as a mock interview can even be carried out to check both your progress and shortcomings. Whatever the result, the coach is ready to handle them accordingly. An added benefit of a digital coach is that the advice that comes is far more tailored towards you and your personality.

Answering STAR-based questions

Thanks to all that can be learned about STAR method interviews, we know that the responses carry the most weight. How you answer the interviewers questions either puts you in their mind or ends your pursuit before it even begins. Always note that these are just questions and since most of them are open ended, anything with a bit of relevance can suit the situation. In summary, you do need an experience of the exact same situation in order to answer.

All parts of the STAR format go together. It is like weaving a story that has a beginning, middle, climax and end. The situation should not be overlooked for a quick result, the sequence of events has to follow one after the other. This tip is very useful to hold the STAR method together. Try to avoid reiterating avoidable mistakes, because you are trying to assure the interviewer that you are competent. Explaining a situation that you caused could reduce your chances of success, even if you eventually found a solution.

Relevant experience gives you a consistent way to answer behavioral interview questions. For instance, if questioned about how you’d handle an emergency, reference a previous emergency and explain in detail how you navigated that situation. Even if the questions seem easy, know when the STAR method will play to your advantage. This timing is difficult for beginners, but a digital coach can easily fix this since they are trained for situations such as this one.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

There is one trap that a lot of people are sure to fall for when looking for a job. This trap is ignorance and there are a couple of levels to it. The most basic level has been fixed by simply having this article around. You may not have heard about behavioral based interviews until now. What is important is not staying ignorant about these sorts of things. Another really common problem is rigidity. While you may now have an idea of what to say or do with this method, staying too rigid will not help.

The STAR method should not only be limited to memorized scenarios, but it should be used as a guide instead. Once this is done, the answers are far more forthcoming than when they are preplanned. Interviews are keen on knowing your past experiences as a judge for the future. The inability to properly relay them will surely hinder your chances of getting that amazing job you desire. This tells us that mistakes with the STAR method have to be avoided as much as possible.

Effective communication is key when it comes to navigating a behavioral based interview. It could even just involve speaking clearly to the interviewer, at least for a start. As soon as your thoughts can be conveyed properly, you are already better than most of the other candidates that are after the same job. Even though practice is a nice way to help with this communication, a coach or mentor will do so much more for you.

Conclusion

How important the STAR format is cannot be overemphasized. This is a method that is tested and trusted. There are also many employers who actively look out for things like that. Following this process will ensure a better success rate, regardless of what sort of job is being applied for. This is also one of the perks of the STAR method; its versatility. Now you can know the right thing to do in behavioral interviews.

Fear can be a limiting factor. While it is okay to be afraid, this should not stop you from implementing this method. Not only is it an easier way to answer questions, it is probably the best technique to ace every scenario you are thrust into. Sometimes, all you need is just a bit of help, luckily this can easily be provided. This help is gotten from trained professionals who clearly know the ins and outs of the STAR interview method.

A good digital coach will make sure the process of learning and using the STAR method is easy. While this can be learned privately, the full potential of this method can require expert help. Hiring the right digital coach for the job can help with avoiding the common mistakes that are bound to occur. Once mastery is achieved, your dream job doesn’t have to remain a dream for much longer.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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