The STAR Method: How to Ace the Interview

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Answering nontechnical behavioral questions like “Give me an example about a time you failed” or “Tell me about yourself” is often the toughest part of an interview. Because these questions are open-ended, they can leave you feeling unsure of how to approach your response without oversharing or sounding scattered. Thankfully, there’s a strategy you can use to craft impressive answers and ace your upcoming interview. It’s called the STAR method. In this story you will learn:

  • What Is the STAR Interview Method?
  • How Do You Use the STAR Method?
  • Another STAR Method Example Answer
  • How to Prepare to Use the STAR Method in an Interview?
  • Pitfalls to Avoid When Using the STAR Method 

What Is the STAR Interview Method?

The STAR method is an interview technique that helps you effectively structure responses to open-ended behavioral questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action and result.

  1. Situation. Describe the event or situation you were in. 
  2. Task. Explain the tasks you were required to achieve. 
  3. Action. Describe the actions you took to complete the tasks. 
  4. Result.  What was the outcome you achieved through your actions? 

This simple framework prompts you to tell a meaningful story about your work experience without rambling or going off on a tangent. You can use the STAR interview method to answer behavioral questions like:

  • Have you experienced any setbacks at work? If so, how did you overcome it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult client. How did you handle the stressful situation?
  • Describe your proudest professional accomplishment.
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond at work. 
  • Talk about a situation where you disagreed with your co-worker or manager. How did you handle it?

How Do You Use the STAR Method?

A well-implemented STAR method allows you to tell an easy-to-follow story that showcases your professional strengths. Put this method to use in your upcoming interview by following these steps:


First, set the stage for your story and capture the interviewer’s attention. Remember, the purpose of this step is to paint a clear picture of the situation you were in so the interviewer fully understands the rest of your answer. Avoid elaborating on details that are not relevant to the question. For example, if the interviewer asks you to describe a time when you disagreed with a co-worker, you probably don’t need to go into detail about why you chose to work there.

So, let’s say you were asked the question, “Describe a time where you went above and beyond to achieve a goal at work,” here’s what the situation portion of your response could look like:

“During my event coordinator internship at X company, I was responsible for organizing a charity fundraiser. However, at the start of the event planning, I realized we merely had one sponsor committed, which was far below our expected target.”


This part of the answer is where you would highlight the problem you were tasked to solve in the particular scenario and what your responsibilities were. So, hold off on telling the interviewer exactly what you did, as you’ll dive into the details in the action portion of your answer.

Continuing the example from above, here’s what you could say for the task portion of your answer: “My task was to secure additional sponsors within two weeks to achieve our fundraising goal of $50,000.”


After you’ve set the stage for your story and given the interviewer an idea of your role, it’s time to dive into the specific actions you took to achieve a goal or solve a problem. This is your chance to showcase the skills and qualities that will make you stand out among other job applicants, so be sure to give enough details.

Here’s an example of what the action portion of your answer could be:

“I created a list of 300 potential sponsors and contacted them through email, phone calls and in-person meetings. I explained to each of them the benefits of the partnership, including the opportunity to publicize their company name and contribute to the charity cause. Though the deadline to secure additional sponsors was fast approaching, I stayed focused on the fundraising goal and didn’t let the pressure get to me.”


The final part of the STAR method is where you explain the positive impact of your actions. Or, if you’re sharing a story about how you failed or made a mistake, use the result portion to end your story on a high note by reflecting on what you’ve learned and how those lessons made you more competent in the workplace.

Here’s an example of what your answer could look like: “After a week of consistent outreach, perseverance and hard work, I successfully secured six more sponsors for the event, which brought us to a total of seven sponsors. By the two-week deadline, I surpassed the $50,000 goal and raised over $60,000. I received recognition from the company management and the event attendees for my outstanding performance as an intern.”

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