STAR interviews are some of the most challenging, in-depth formats that job applicants face. This guide presents a breakdown of the STAR format, and includes both sample interview questions and strategies for success. More
One of the best things about working as a hiring manager was having the opportunity to make first contact with potential applicants at my company. You’ve probably always heard about the importance of making a good first impression, and I’d have to agree completely. An interview is your time to shine, your time to convince a company why they should pay you to do a particular job. If you get an actual job interview, whether in-person or over the phone, it’s because the company has seen something that they like and has deemed you worthy of their time. For them the interview is one of the last chances they have to judge whether or not you’d be a good fit.
STAR interview questions were developed for just these reasons. Using a standard series of STAR-format questions will allow a company to see how you reason through a situation and perhaps more importantly, how you justify or defend your logic. For this reason, STAR interviews are commonly used for leadership positions or for jobs where a person will make important decisions on a regular basis. When it is performed well by both the interviewer and the applicant, a STAR interview takes on the appearance of a casual conversation between colleagues. However, sticking to a pre-determined list of questions for all applicants allows a company to judge the quality of responses across all applicants. While they can appear casual on the outside, STAR interviews actually follow a rigid format and scoring scale. This will vary slightly from company to company, but in all cases the applicant can be awarded no points, or can even be penalized, if they fail to completely answer a question. The biggest difficulty that most applicants have is managing to sell themselves and their experience while completely answering each interview question. This is particularly true for prior military service members, who might be some of the best qualified applicants, but who are simply used to providing responses in a completely different hierarchy.
In a STAR interview, you’ll be asked a series of questions which are designed to prompt thorough, in-depth answers. In a traditional interview format, you might feel stumped if you were asked, “Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done” or “Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.” But in a STAR interview, there are four major points that will help you provide a complete answer and receive full credit:
Situation: You’ll be asked to give an example of a past situation you were involved in.
Task: You’ll need to describe the tasks involved in that situation, which is basically whatever you needed to accomplish.
Action: You’ll have to talk about the various actions that YOU took to solve the problem.
Results: You’ll also have to explain the outcome of your actions.
I’ve seen talented candidates receive low scores on STAR interviews simply because they weren’t familiar with the format, and didn’t fully answer each question. Some of the most experienced job-seekers might be turned down, simply because they didn’t take enough time to familiarize themselves with STAR interviews.
That’s the main reason why I put together this e-book, “The Complete Guide to STAR Interviews”. This book is a 10-page guide which breaks down the STAR interview format, including sample questions and strategies for success. This book will tell you everything you need to know to prepare for a STAR interview, and will help you get full credit for all of your answers.