STAR Method | Main Region

What is the STAR method when interviewing?

a woman taking notes
If you’re looking for a new job, chances are high you’ve heard about the STAR method that can be useful to answer questions in job interviews. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and it’s a technique you can use to not only strengthen your answers but create a narrative and structure as well. We recommend the STAR interview method to candidates who want to tailor direct and concise answers to impress interviewers.

The four steps of STAR interview questions

As we’ve shared in our job interview preparation advice, the key steps in the STAR interview technique are:


Describe to your interviewer a relevant situation you have experienced. You have to establish the scene for the hiring manager, which will enable them to understand the context of your answer and it will allow you to retain focus when answering.  

Example: You were responsible for a colleague who was making a lot of errors processing product orders.  


This is where you come into the picture. This point enables you to then summarise what your involvement was and exactly what your key responsibilities were. It can be easy to get this mixed up with the Action step, but just keep it simple by listing out your objectives.  
Example: You resolved to create a template to further guide your colleague in order processing.


The hiring manager now knows what your objectives and responsibilities were, now you need to describe what you did. It’s important to provide specific details here instead of just a general answer. Be specific about the action you took, what you used to help you with those actions, what teams you worked with and more.  
Example: You set up specific meetings with your colleague to walk through the process, while establishing a system that would help reduce their error count.  


This is where you can demonstrate the effect your actions had and is the most important part of the whole answer. At the end of the day, the actions are good to know, but it needs to all matter and achieve results. Numbers are impactful here as well as establishing the success of the task.  
Example: due to the actions you took, your colleague reduced their error rate from 2.1 per cent to 0.4 per cent. 

STAR method interview questions and answers

The STAR method is a valuable technique you can even apply to your answers for behavioural and competency interview questions. Employers ask behavioural interview questions to surmise how you’ll perform in specific scenarios. They ask competency interview questions to ensure you have the specific competencies required for the job.  

Can you give an example of a problem you have helped your organisation resolve?

STAR interview answer: “Our email marketing click rate was well below the industry average for the past financial year [Situation]. My manager wanted me to lead the turnaround of the click rate [Task]. I refined our email marketing template, so it was more intuitive and direct in calling our audience to action [Action]. Our click rate exceeded industry averages in the next financial year, we performed better than we had in four years and our sales revenue from emails increased [Result].”

Give an example of how you showed initiative and took the lead?

STAR interview answer: “My colleague had to take sick leave in the middle of a high priority pitching project with an urgent deadline [Situation]. I suggested to my manager I would shuffle my priorities to pick up the project [Task]. It meant some overtime, but I made the project my top priority to meet the deadline [Action]. We completed the project on time and won a new client out of it [Result].” 

Tell us about a time that you made a mistake at work and how it was rectified?

When answering this common question, don’t be afraid to share a real-life mistake. You’ll win more trust from a hiring manager by being transparent and honest, instead of just giving a surface-level answer that doesn’t tell them more about you as a person. But you must carefully frame the way you describe your mistake. Use the STAR method to show how your mistake was formative in your career development.   
With the STAR method, you can also describe what happened after your mistake. Remember to focus on the quantifiable results that ensued. For example, "After this mistake, I completed a short customer service course to improve my skills. Since then, I’ve led our customer service team to respond to customer enquiries 30 per cent faster than we did in the previous 12 months.” 

Describe a time when you experienced conflict in the workplace 

Highlight to your interviewer that you know how to resolve conflict at work by firstly setting the scene. For instance, you might say, "My colleague was very unresponsive to emails, and other colleagues had complained." From here, shape the rest of your answer into a few sentences: "I scheduled a short meeting with my colleague to see if we could discuss a resolution. What emerged was that different employees in our organisation had different communication styles. Our conversation led to a wider discussion about how we could alter our communication streams in a way that suited everyone. We uncovered a larger issue and dissipated a lot of friction as a result." 

Talk me through a situation where you have worked under pressure 

Use the STAR method here to explain the main task you were responsible for. Maybe it was responding to more than ten client enquiries in an hour. Focus on a key action you undertook to reduce the pressure. Perhaps you broke the overall task into smaller tasks. If the result was that you served 20 satisfied customers, share that quantifiable information to show your interviewer how well you worked under pressure. 

What’s the closest you’ve come to experiencing burnout at work? How did you address that? 

Here, you can incorporate the STAR method to show an interviewer you are resilient and capable of identifying and making changes to improve your wellbeing. Describe what led to your burnout and then the actions you took to manage it. For example, perhaps you took a short sabbatical and afterwards returned to work to deliver strong results. 

Benefits of using the STAR method

Keep the following benefits of using the STAR method in mind, too, when preparing your answers to common interview questions:  
  • STAR method answers help you demonstrate how you can add value to an organisation.  
  • Job seekers who use the STAR method often give more specific and focused interview answers.  
  • When you master the STAR method, you make a confident impression in interviews. That’s because you know exactly what to say, instead of meandering around looking for an answer. 
  • The STAR method is great for self-discovery. It's a way to ask questions of yourself you haven't before. By asking these questions, you uncover high-value insights about yourself to share with your interviewer. 
  • You can also showcase strong communication skills with the STAR method. It helps you answer interview questions clearly, which shows your potential employer you can bring valuable communication skills to the organisation. 

Practice your STAR method answers

When using the STAR interview method, we encourage you to rehearse your interview answers ahead of a job interview. There are several standard interview questions, so use the STAR interview method to prepare and practice answering them. We also encourage you to download our full interview guide to even better prepare yourself.  
When using the STAR method for answering questions, it’s easy to fall into the trap of your answers sounding too rehearsed when you recite them. Use the STAR method to get the structure and what you want to say down, but don’t write out a full script for you to read. 

Use the STAR method in cover letters, resumes and job applications, too

Finally, this technique has benefits beyond solely a job interview. The information you prepare for STAR interview questions is great for repurposing. For example, you can tailor the answers you create for a job interview to populate your cover letters, resumes and job applications. 

Consider this information a resource to revisit and recycle throughout your job search process. Good luck. 

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