What is the STAR job interview method? This behavior-based interview question format is highly recommended by hiring managers as a way for job candidates to show their interviewer their strengths and problem-solving skills. The STAR interviewing method can help candidates make a great first impression and show their interviewer how they would fit into the position they are applying for. Pat Miller, The Idea Coach, spoke with CEO and Founder of In Your FACE Learning David Scurlock about how candidates can be STARS in their job interviews.⭐
The STAR Job Interview Method
The STAR job interview method for answering interview questions is a surefire way to show hiring managers that you have the right skills and the right attitude for the job, regardless of your experience. Scurlock shared that hiring managers will use terminology from the acronym that candidates can listen for as a reminder that they need to answer the question in STAR format. A question an interviewer who is looking for a STAR answer might ask is “Can you tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work? What was the situation and what did you do to overcome the challenge?”
Here's how you could answer that question using the STAR job interview method:
What was the specific situation you were in when you faced the problem? The situation should provide context for the particular set of circumstances you were dealing with when you faced the challenge. An example of this would be: “I was one of the first-hired baristas at a new coffee shop in town”
The task, often confused with the situation, should be the challenge you faced, the assignment you were given, or the problem you were asked to solve. Think about what your manager literally asked you to do. For example “My manager asked me to set the standard for what it meant to be an efficient, hardworking barista at the coffee shop.”
The action should be how you went about solving that problem, overcoming that challenge, or completing that project. Don’t worry about making your action sound complicated or revolutionary. The interviewer is trying to understand your problem-solving process. An example of how to answer this would be: “I created and documented a training program based on the duties and responsibilities all baristas need to know to be successful. I trained all new employees using this program.”
The result should be the positive outcome of your action and it is best if you can provide a specific metric. It doesn’t matter if your solution wasn’t perfect or if there were some negative side effects, the interviewer just wants to know that you contributed something positive to the company through your actions or that you at least learned from the experience. Examples of this would be “Because everyone was trained to work efficiently according to my training program, the coffee shop beat its first month’s projected sales by 50%” or “my training program was too complicated for new hires to follow, so I collaborated with my coworkers and revamped it so that it was more simple and as a result, I strengthened my team working abilities.”
If you ever find that you’re too nervous in your interview to recall all of the components of the STAR method, Scurlock recommends focusing on the action and the result as those are the two most important aspects that the hiring manager should hear about.
Scurlock also emphasized that it doesn’t matter what your job experience is because in every job you face problems for which you have to think strategically, measure results, and keep working on it until you find the best solution. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t done everything that the position requires.
Motivational Fit Interview Questions
Scurlock also shared information on something he helps clients with called the motivational fit of a candidate. Motivational fit questions help an interviewer determine if a candidate is a good cultural fit for the organization and if their motivation for interviewing for the job will result in a happy, long-term employee. You may have all of the qualifications necessary for a position, but if the position doesn’t align with your values and doesn’t fit into your long-term goals for yourself, it’s not going to benefit you or the employer to take that position.
Scurlock shared that you can determine where your motivations lie by thinking back on your previous job and educational experiences and determining what excites you and what you’re passionate about. Then, you compare those experiences with what the position you’re applying for offers. When thinking about this, it is good to keep in mind that no job is perfect. Every position and company comes with pros and cons. It is up to you, through experience and self-reflection, to determine how heavily each of those pros and cons weighs.
If your passions align with the job you’re applying for, you can show this to your hiring manager by doing your homework on the organization and on the position and being prepared to answer specifically why it is that you want the job. Is it because the organization’s mission is one you truly believe in? Is it because the position offers opportunities to do a particular task that you enjoy? Your motivational fitness for a position is one of the best ways you can show a hiring manager that even if you don’t have 100% of the skills they’re looking for, you have the right attitude and the desire to stick around, learn, and excel in their position.
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Things to Remember
Scurlock advised candidates that most important thing they can do for themselves and their career is figure out what they’re passionate about. Our guide can help you ask yourself the right questions when you’re looking to further your career.