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Be a STAR of Your Interview

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

The STAR method stands for situation or task, action, and results. A formula used in behavior based interviews. It is an easy way to describe a work situation and describe what you accomplished during an interview.

Three people in business suits stand in an office. The closet person smiles at the camera. The two in the back talk over a device.

Use examples from internships, classes and school projects, activities, team participation, community service, and work experience -- anything really -- as examples of your past behavior. In addition, you may use examples of special accomplishments, whether personal or professional, such as winning a competition, having your first exhibition, winning a prize for your artwork, or raising money for charity. Wherever possible, quantify your results. Numbers always impress employers.

Remember that many behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations; you'll need to have examples of negative experiences ready, but try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of or -- better yet, those that had positive outcomes.

A woman wearing a white blouse holds a pen to a notebook while looking at the camera.

Here's a good way to prepare for behavior-based interviews:

  • Identify six to eight examples from your past experience where you demonstrated top behaviors and skills that employers typically seek. Think in terms of examples that will exploit your top selling points.

  • Half your examples should be totally positive, such as accomplishments or meeting goals.

  • The other half should be situations that started out negatively but either ended positively or you enable you to describe a outcome you learned from the situation.

  • Vary your examples; don't take them all from just one area of your life.

  • Use fairly recent examples. If you're a college student, examples from high school may be too long ago.

  • Try to describe examples in story form using the STAR method.

Right before you're interviewed for a behavioral interview, review your resume. Seeing your achievements in print will jog your memory. In the interview, listen carefully to each question, and pull an example out of your bag of tricks that provides an appropriate description of how you demonstrated the desired behavior. With practice, you can learn to tailor a few examples to respond to a number of different behavioral questions.

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