STAR Interview Method: Definition and How to Impress with Answers

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The STAR interview method is a way to respond to common interview questions. It’s important that you understand how to use the STAR method so you can clearly and confidently answer any type of behavioral interview question an employer may ask you. This article explains how to use the STAR answer method to answer popular interview questions so you can impress your interviewer. 

What is the STAR interview method?

The STAR method is an interview response technique that allows you to take control of a job interview (especially a behavioral-style interview) by assessing a prospective employer’s requirements and preparing answers to likely questions ahead of time. STAR is an acronym that refers to Situation, Task, Action and Result. 

What is a behavioral interview?

In a behavioral or competency-based interview, the interviewer has a particular set of needs or goals in mind and wants to know how you will fulfill them. 

Common behavioral interview questions include:

  • Tell me how you set goals.
  • Describe an incident where you were faced with an unexpected problem on a tight deadline.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How did you handle working with someone you disliked?

The STAR technique allows you to explain and illustrate how you will meet the needs of your future employer by using examples of how you’ve dealt with related challenges in the past.

What does STAR stand for?

The acronym STAR stands for:


The situation is the challenge, project or other event you faced. When you’re preparing for potential interview questions, think about situations that might be relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. Consider the way you’d describe the problem you faced. This could be something directly related to your current or previous job, such as ‘I had to give an important presentation with only two days to prepare’ or ‘My team needed to develop a social media strategy before a product’s launch date.’ 

It could also be something more general. For example, if you’re asked ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ you might mention the position you wish to have, an academic or professional achievement and perhaps your ideal location. Think about who is involved, what is happening, where it’s happening and when it’s happening.


The task is what your responsibilities and duties were in that situation. In the situation you described, narrow down the task or target you were directly responsible for. Be concise. You need to convey the specifics to your interviewer as briefly and clearly as you can. Be sure to highlight any particularly challenging aspects of the task. Mention constraints and obstacles you faced.


The action is the steps you took or the procedure you followed to complete the project or resolve the difficulty. Describe the actions you took to complete your task or achieve your target. Think about the steps you personally took to ensure that the task was completed or the target met. Focus specifically on your own actions rather than those of others. Be sure to highlight the good qualities you showed in taking those specific actions. 

This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your best traits to the interviewer. Make sure you take full advantage of it. If your actions showed good leadership, expert communication skills or great dedication, convey this to your interviewer.


The result portion of the STAR method is where you demonstrate your accomplishments. Describe the outcome of the actions you took. Let the interviewer know how well that important presentation was received or how successful that social media strategy proved to be. If the question relates to something that hasn’t happened yet, such as your future plans and ambitions, you can share the results you’ve achieved so far on your road to fulfilling those goals. 

Preparing for your interview with the STAR method

Well before your interview, consider the requirements of the job you’re interviewing for and how you might apply the STAR method. Read the job description for your prospective role and try to get as much detail about your future responsibilities as you can. 

It will also be helpful to learn about the corporate culture and overall mission. This will put you in the best position to answer any questions the interviewer might ask you. 

The types of interview questions and topics that could be answered by the STAR method include:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Leadership and initiative
  • Interpersonal skills, communication and conflict resolution
  • Performing under pressure

You do not need to anticipate every question the interviewer might ask, but you should have a good general idea of what the interview will involve. By thinking ahead and coming up with STAR responses that are relevant to each of these categories, you will be well-prepared.

Focus on success

When considering which examples you use for your STAR answers, choose an episode from your career that resulted in success. You can model your best qualities and accomplishments for your interviewer. Think about how the outcome of the episode reflects on you, both in your work role and as an individual.

The STAR method is a very powerful technique with many applications beyond the interview setting. You can use the STAR method as a tool in many different situations, both in and out of the workplace.