Interviewing 101: A Guide to Answering Behavioral Questions Using the STAR Strategy
March 12, 2020
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Today, more and more employers want to know who you are as an individual, the unique qualities you possess, and how well you can adapt to their company’s culture. On their quest to find out this information, hiring managers have stopped focusing on technical questions since these skills can be taught. Instead, they have begun to ask behavioral based interview questions.

A behavioral based interview question is one that aims to learn about your past “behaviors” in various work situations. The purpose behind asking behavioral questions is based on the assumption that one of the most accurate predictors of future behavior is past performance in similar situations.

 Knowing the weight that these questions carry, it’s important to understand what behavioral questions are and how to answer them. Lucky for you, there is a system called the STAR strategy that makes tackling behavioral questions incredibly simple and easy. This acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Let’s take a look at how to use it!


Suppose an interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you experienced a conflict while working with a group or team, and how you resolved the conflict. The first step to answering this question is describing the situation, which will ultimately set the scene for your story. Start by explaining what challenge you, and your teammates, were facing. An example of this could be: “My teammates and I had a project to complete with an upcoming due date, however, one of our teammates was not pulling the expected weight for his part of the project. This caused us to start to fall behind on our project, threatening our ability to meet our deadline.” 


After describing the situation, you must explain what you were trying to accomplish. The interviewer wants you to identify what your specific responsibilities and goals were in this situation. It is important to be as specific as you can, so the interviewer can understand what will be explained in the next step: your actions. Here is an example of your tasks: “I was responsible for writing the Executive Summary for the project. This piece is an important part of finishing the project, but I could not complete the summary without the necessary inputs from my partner, who had not done his part yet.”


Next, you must speak about what you actually did. The interviewer understands what your responsibilities and conflicts were, so now they want to know what actions you took to solve the problem, how and why you took those actions, and the alternatives that you had to choose from. This is where you have the opportunity to showcase your talents and your critical thinking skills. You should describe what strengths you have that you believe helped aide in the success of your actions, and why. An example of this would be: “I am usually the mediator on a team. Since I finished all that I could for my part of the project, I decided it would be best to reach out to the members of my team who were struggling to complete their parts and offer my assistance.”


Finally, you will describe what the outcome of your actions was. This step is the most important. The interviewer wants to know what you achieved through your actions, if your objectives were met, what you learned from the experience, and how you will utilize what you learned here in the future. It is critical that you never forget to end your story with a result and what you learned from the experience. 

An example of this would be: “By reaching out to my teammate, I learned that he had been going through personal issues at home, which had affected his school work and caused him to fall behind. He was appreciative of the fact that I contacted him and offered to help. Since I was aware of why he was not pulling his weight, my teammates and I were more than happy to help him finish his part on time. This experience helped me to learn that communication is the number one factor for success on a team. Because we worked together, we were able to meet our deadline and received an A on our project.”

When used at its best, the STAR framework will come across as a well-articulated example demonstrating your capabilities and communication skills. It is important to paint the full picture for your interviewer. If you leave out key details such as what was causing the conflict and exactly how you were able to solve it, your interviewer could be left with more questions than answers. They are not only be seeing if you can handle a situation, but how you handle it. 

To become even better at this interview format, it’s best to create a list of examples that you can rehearse and use for different scenarios. If you can successfully describe a situation, task, action and result, then you can successfully answer any behavioral question. Good luck!



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By Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell is the Founder and Chief Resume Writer at Brandon enjoys helping clients from all walks of life and is a sought out career expert. Brandon has been featured in Earn Your Leisure, The Squeeze, and Blapitalist. Follow Brandon on Linkedin

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