Use the STAR method to structure answers to behavioral questions
You can use the STAR interview method to prepare for behavioral interviews — a technique that helps you structure your response to behavioral interview questions. Using this method, you create a deliberate story arc that your interviewer can easily follow. Here’s how it works:
- Situation: What is the context of your story? In setting the situation, you are telling your listener when or where this event took place. For example, “We were working on a six-month contract for a high-value client, when our agency merged with another, larger firm…”
- Task: What was your role in this situation? For example, “It was my role to lead the transition for my group while also communicating with our client to keep the project on track.”
- Action: What did you do? For example, “I set up weekly check-ins with the client to update them on the progress of the merger. This cemented an important level of trust between us. I also had regular one-on-ones with each person on the team, both to assess how they were handling the change and to make sure we would meet our deadlines.”
- Result: What did your actions lead to? For example, “We ended up completing the project on time, meeting all of their specifications. It was incredibly rewarding to navigate a lot of change and succeed under pressure.”
How to prepare
Read the job description carefully. Make a list of the top skills or qualifications it calls for. Think of a story that demonstrates your ability in each area. Following the STAR technique, write your stories down, including the situation, task, action and result. Then, practice saying them out loud several times, either by yourself or with a friend. Keep in mind that your answer should only take about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. As you include each of the elements, try to be succinct.
If you’re feeling shy or lacking confidence, this practice is all the more important. You should get comfortable with these stories. Remember: you won’t be able to anticipate every behavioral question you get, but with a strong set of anecdotes, you’ll be able to answer each one with confidence.