The STAR Technique of answering behavioural questions

“Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.”

“Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.”

“Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.”

“Tell me about a time when you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have liked you (or vice versa)”

“Give me an example of a time when you tried to accomplish something and failed.”

“Give me an example of a time when you showed initiative and took the lead.”

“Tell me about a situation when you had to deal with an upset customer or co-worker.”

“Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.”

“Please tell me about a time when you had to fire a friend at the workplace and how you dealt with that.”

“Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do that you had to prioritize your tasks.”

We have all come across such questions in one interview or the other. They are called Behavioral questions. They may be a bit tricky to answer if you are not well prepared or if you are in a panic situation. That is why the best secret to answering interview question is first to calm down and relax, secondly, be confident even when you are unsure of the right answer and finally know the best way to answer such questions. This is the technique we shall be sharing with you.

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The STAR Method represents: Situation, Task, Action, and Result

Behavioral question: “Tell me about a situation when you had to use creative thinking and innovation to solve a problem at the workplace.”

Situation: You are required to clearly describe the situation or event. Be sure to provide enough detail and not a generalized description. The situation expected may be from a previous position, volunteer experience or any other relevant event.

For example- “There is a period, in the second quarter of our fiscal year when there was a stagnation in revenue. The marketing department in which I was part of was not doing so well and the sales were pretty low according to the company standards.T he sales were about 20% lower than the previous quarter.We had many department meetings trying to brainstorm how to bring the company back to its feet.”

Task: You need to define the goal or task you were aiming to achieve in the situation previously described.

Describing the task:” The Company needed to urgently come up with innovative strategies to achieve higher sales.”

Action: You need to describe the specific action or steps you took and your particular contribution. Remember to keep the focus on you and not what a team did.

Describe the action you took: “It is during this time that I came up with the idea of creating a reward system in the company and for the clients. Rewarding loyal clients is a way of showing appreciation for choosing our products and services and it encourages current clients to keep being loyal to the brand and also drawing in new clients in the process. I shared with my department colleagues and I led the team to come up with a good strategy which we later shared with the management. It was not easy convincing the management to take up the new strategy because of the costs involved in the short-run.”

Result: As a conclusion, you need to describe the outcome of you accomplished. Give a description of what you accomplished as a result of the steps you took.

Describe the end result:”I must say, this is among the best decisions the company made as the sales gradually rose by 35% in the third quarter superseding even the first quarter. Not only that, we managed to get a greater online visibility as clients gave feedback on our website and social media pages. This accomplishment was a major reason I was awarded the employee of the year at the End of year party”

By answering the questions in a detailed manner, the interviewer gets to understand that you are a person who takes initiative and that you are actually good at mobilizing a team.

It is important to follow all the parts of the STAR method and become as specific and detailed as possible at all time. Remember the main reason why the interviewer asks such questions is to get a clear understanding of how you deal with situations, what kind of a leader you are, how you deal with failure etc.This is to establish what kind of a person/team player you will be in the organisation.


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