24 STAR Interview Questions & Answers [2020 Updated]

star interview questions

OK, so you’ve heard about STAR interview questions but what is it? You are looking to get prepared for your upcoming interview and a friend or family member told you to look into the STAR method.

Or maybe the employer told you that you’d be asked STAR interview questions during your interview session and you’re looking for example answers.

In any event, we’re here to help break down what the STAR method is, what STAR interview questions you might get asked, how you might answer them and get your sights set on how you’d prepare for this session.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What Is The STAR Method When Interviewing

The STAR Method stands for Situation, Task, Ask/Action, Resolution/Result. This means that both the interview question and the answer is intended to set you up to describe a situation, describe the task you were challenged with, the action you took and the resolution that it had.

Pro fact: Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages conducted a number of studies on nonverbal communication between humans. He found that only 7% of the message to another person is conveyed by words. While 55% came through nonverbal elements. Telling your STAR interview answer in an impactful way is a critical part of increasing your chances of employment.

What Part Of The Interview Process Do STAR Interview Questions Get Asked

STAR interview questions are usually asked after your pre-screen, phone interview or first-round interview sessions. It can vary depending on the environment and the companies preferences for how many rounds of interviews they have before they make you an employment offer. In primary cases, STAR interview questions are going to be asked on-site, not by phone.

That means you should be prepared to answer STAR interview questions if:

Why Are STAR Interview Questions Asked

At the core of it, STAR interview questions are asked by the employer to be able to test your core competencies. This is a way of testing your prior work experience as well as your general IQ without having to work with you, yet.

When STAR interview questions are asked, they generally try to uncover your ability to:

How Do I Prepare For A STAR Interview?

In order to prepare for STAR interview sessions, it is important that you spend the time to both know your answer for the potential STAR interview question you might be asked but also have a list of recent experiences that you might be able to pull your answer from.

Here are some things that you’d want to do in order to prepare:

24 Example STAR and Behavioral Interview Questions

Below is a list of the most popular STAR and situational interview questions that you are likely to be asked in an interview by the hiring manager. There may be interview questions that resemble the ones below and are asked in a different format. But generally speaking, they are asking the same interview question.

5 Best STAR or Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

Below are sample behavioral questions and answers that might arise during an interview session. This may not need to be a behavioral interview specifically in order for these questions to be asked. As an interviewer, you should be prepared to answer these questions whenever you get ready to interview with your hiring manager.

Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.

Answer: When I was my previous company, we had a few weeks to complete a really important project. There were about 12 of us involved in this project. And our team felt a little uneasy about the fact that we didn’t have a strong grasp of the needs of the project. We continued forward and unfortunately made a few mistakes. The management team wasn’t entirely pleased with our team performance. I was one of the first ones to take the onus on our performance and say there are a few things we can improve next time. The fact that I wasn’t scared to admit that we tried, did our best but learned some lessons made the rest of the employees follow suit. Management respected us for taking ownership and gave us another shot on another project. We crushed that one.

Related: Tell Me About A Time When You Demonstrated Leadership Skills

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without the information you needed.

Answer: There was a conflict between two colleagues. And both of them felt as though the other was lying about the situation. Unfortunately, no one was around when the incident occurred to help validate which one of the employees was telling the truth. One of them was going to be terminated. I made the decision to listen to the person who was being less aggressive in their delivery. We ended up later finding out that the employee who was terminated was at fault.

Related: Tell Me A Time When You Had To Make A Decision Without The Information You Needed

Tell me about a conflict you’ve had with a coworker and how you resolved it.

Answer: During the team meeting, there was a colleague who ended up expressing some frustration with our team process. I wanted to make sure I was part of the solution. So I asked them if there was something we as a team could be doing better. It seemed that getting the floor and asking for their opinion helped. We ended up taking some of the recommendations they made.

Related: Answering “Tell Me About A Conflict You’ve Had With A Coworker”

Tell me about a time you failed.

Answer: I worked in customer service and had to deal with a very angry customer. Our product had failed on them, and they wanted their money back. The company policy was very strict on “no refunds,” and this customer was a rare unsatisfied one, as our products were often quite dependable. I stayed calm, remained polite, and offered a store credit, coupons, and other solutions. The customer was not having any of it and let me know we would not receive their business again before hanging up. From this experience, I learned that working within the policies of a company can indeed be difficult. However, I could have taken more time to listen to the customer’s concerns and level with them, rather than just throw solutions out there. Customer service is about making the customer happy, and being an effective communicator is a big part of that.

Related: Answering “Tell Me About A Time You Failed” In A Job Interview

What is your greatest achievement?

Answer: My last employer had a history of missing the mark when it came to preparing promotional activities. It was no fault of their own— they were a small company and the budget focused on the product itself, which was smart and understandable. While I was employed as a marketing supervisor, I took the time to make a very low-cost plan for three different promotional events. We managed to have enough in the budget for all three, and we brought on a ton of new clients through them. I think my ability to brainstorm and budget are important to this position, and that achievement really proved that to me.

Related: 8 Best Answers To “What Is Your Greatest Achievement” In An Interview

Are STAR Interview Questions & Behavioral Interview Questions The Same

Yes. Behavioral and STAR interview questions are the same. They are asking you to describe work experience through a situation that you were tasked with at the workplace. If you are looking to learn more about behavioral interview questions, we have a complete guide here.

Related: 13 Behavioral Interview Questions & Answers: Guide, How To Answer

How Do You Answer A STAR Situational Question

Here is a sample answer to a STAR interview question that uses a situation as part of the guidance for the answer. Instead of going through the interview question, we’re going to show you what your answer should contain, using the STAR method.

Example Situation: We had a tight deadline in which our team wasn’t prepared to be able to fulfill.

Example Task: I was asked to help ensure that our team was able to finish this project in time for our client.

Example Action: I took charge, motivated our team with incentives that I got approved by our leadership team, which ended up being a day off two-days from then. Afterward, ensured we were well organized with our tasks to work efficiently, ensured everyone was clear on our goals, then we went to work.

Example Result: We were able to complete the project by the following day, with a few hours to spare. The team took their day off, felt humbled to have accomplished such a big ask and were rewarded by the whole company for their valiant effort.

Common Behavioral Interview Questions FAQ

Below are questions that are commonly asked by job seekers.

What is a competency based interview?

A competency based interview is one where situational interview questions are asked. There are no specific competency based interview questions. They are simply star, situational or behavioral interview questions. This provides the interviewer or hiring manager the opportunity to learn about your skills in the workplace. It helps them understand what you can provide to the company. When they ask you about how to you worked with a team member or teams, it lets them know what types of competencies you may have.

What is a mock interview session?

A mock interview session is where a friend or family member pretends to be your manager. They ask you questions at random and test your ability to answer them. This can be very helpful when you're applying for a new role or job title that you want to be well prepared for.

What is a core competency and why does my manager care?

A core competency is a skill that is developed through experience. For example, being able to lead or inspire others. It is important for managers to comprehend what you can complement the rest of the team so that they can better anticipate team chemistry. For example, knowing how you'll be able to complete the teams missing needs.

What are situational questions and how should I better prepare for them?

This is a common misunderstanding. Situational questions are the same as STAR or behavioral questions. Your manager may say this is a "situational interview" or this is a "behavioral based interview" simply to provide you the foresight to prepare yourself for the interview.

What is the star interview technique?

It is described as the way we answered the sample common interview questions in this guide. The Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR). That is considered a STAR response.

How can I get better at answering behavioral interview questions?

Spend time thinking about your most memorable achievements, use those as the basis for all of your STAR questions. Then practice with a friend or family member multiple times. Keep your answers to less than 90-seconds and be very clear with your response. That is the best way to advance yourself and gain experience answering behavioral interview questions in anticipation of an interview.

How many behavioral questions should I expect in an interview?

You'll probably experience anywhere from one to five behavioral style interview questions. Unless they have indicated to you that it will be a behavioral interview, which could mean more questions of this nature.

What if they say this is a competency-based interview?

It would be the same as a behavioral interview. You should be prepared to answer competency questions like the STAR interview questions mentioned in this guide. The same goes for your future employer telling you they want to have a "competency interview" for the role you applied for.

What is the most important part of the STAR answer?

For a recruiter, the situation task action part of the STAR method is going to be more important than your result.

How can I be the most prepared for this style of an interview?

Ask a friend to work with you and go through questions and answers that relate to your understanding of your work history. The questions and answers should appear similar to this guide but inherit a lot of your prior job experience and personal experience. Behavioral interviewing can be difficult. Take your time, practice often.

Should I expect to be asked variations of the behavioral interview questions mentioned in this guide?

Yes. There may be variations of the behavioral interview questions mentioned here based on the role you're applying for. A management role, for instance, will change the interview questions and answers that you should have.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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