20+ STAR Interview Questions & Best Sample Answers [2020]

star interview questions

The STAR method or STAR technique is a format and structure used by interviewees to answer behavioral interview questions or situational interview questions. A behavioral question and a situational question is an open-ended interview question that prompts the interviewer to share a past experience at work and how the situation was handled.

Situational questions and behavioral questions often begin with “Tell me about a time..” or “Can you tell me when..” These are the types of interview questions where the STAR interview method can be utilized as an interviewee or job candidate.

A hiring manager may ask a number of interview questions, then prompt the interviewer with a STAR question or competency question like “Tell me about a time you had to make a decision without all the available information you needed.” These behavioral interview questions will often be mixed into the interview session rather than having the entire interview be strictly behavioral-based.

These questions serve a great purpose for the interviewer. They promote the ability for the interviewer to hear about a difficult situation, challenging situation, or specific situation that can provide them with ample opportunity to learn about work performance and how the interviewee might conduct themselves in a professional sense. This allows the hiring manager or interviewer to understand if a similar situation were to unfold in the new work environment, how the candidate would handle the stressful situation.

As a candidate, when you hear a behavioral interview question, consider answering using the STAR technique or “STAR Response”. It is defined as:

Situation — Explain what the issue is.

Task — Describe the responsibilities needed.

Action — Describe the steps that need to take place.

Result — Describe the end result.

As an interviewee, when you tell your story using this structure, you are presenting a “STAR answer”. This answer helps the interviewer to join you in the situation that you were presented with and shows how your past behavior was a key indicator of your future performance. A candidate should only present situations and work examples where the outcomes were positive. And can show an interviewer that they should have confidence in the candidate’s ability to perform the job function.

Tip: It can be helpful to consult an interview coach and receive interview coaching if there isn’t a clear path to answering behavioral interview questions. Job seekers can practice with a friend (in a mock interview) and attempt to use the STAR interview technique to answer questions.

24 Common STAR Interview Questions

Below are common behavioral interview questions that may be asked which prompt a STAR response from the interviewee. These will be asked in addition to more common interview questions like, "Why do you want to work here?"

Tip: As a candidate, before your next interview, practice taking the STAR approach to behavioral interview questions. Write your sample answer down on a piece of paper and ensure the story only takes 90-seconds or less to tell. Practice telling your work experience story with a friend, colleague, or family member.

5 Best STAR or Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

Below is a sample response to each of the job interview questions that fit into the "common behavioral question" group. It may be part of the interview process to ask regular interview questions that test a candidates previous work experience, then ask a behavioral interview question that prompts tests their competencies.

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

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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