What is the STAR method?
The STAR method is an interviewing technique that you can use to help break down and answer tough behavioral interview questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result.
Behavioral questions are an important tool that employers ask on top of traditional interview questions to gauge how a candidate might handle certain real-life situation that may present itself during the course of the role. When effectively used, they can capture a glimpse into a candidate’s personality, demeanor, and skillsets.
How does the STAR technique work?
When you are in the midst of an interview, it’s important to formulate your thoughts into answers in a timely and concise manner. The STAR method provides a framework to help you share experiences that had clear challenges and resolutions.
Set the stage and share context and present details around the challenges that you were facing. Try to focus on previous experiences that are relevant to the role as described in the job description. It’s best to try and draw from relevant work experiences, but in some cases, it’s appropriate to discuss personal or academic experiences.
Try not to spend too much time here. The facts should be laid out and the situation should be conveyed to the interviewer with just a few sentences. The focus should not be on the scenario, but the steps you took to address the issues.
Example: “In my last role as a Product Manager for a mobile game, I noticed that users would stop playing as much after around 10 days after installing the game and so revenue started to drastically drop.”
Describe what your role was in addressing the issues at hand. Keep this part short and focus on the following:
How a solution to the issue was devised
How the responsibilities were doled out to each team member
Example: “I knew that we needed to find out why user retention started to drop off after day 10, so I had my team start testing the app and play with it for around 10 days. After a while, we noticed that there was a bug around level 20 that kicked users out of the game if they chose a particular action. Once we figured this out, we took our findings to Engineering and got them to work the fix into their next sprint.”
Here’s your time to shine. Once the stage has been set and the interviewer firmly understands the challenge you faced and what your role was going to be in addressing it, explain the specific actions that you performed to fix the problem. Be cognizant of time and rambling, but be thorough in your answer and include all relevant details that are pertinent to the role. If the project was expansive, focus on a few of the most impactful actions that you took that found success.
Example: “Once we were able to communicate the issues over to Engineering, it was my task to make sure that the fixes were pushed through and quality assured to make sure they were gone for good. I worked with the engineers and made sure the bug was fixed for every device across all platforms and sent a small in-app-gift to all users negatively affected by the inconvenience.”
Share the results of all the work you put in to address the challenges you and your team were facing. Many modern companies are very results-driven, so come prepared with some data points and concrete examples of your impact on the bottom line.
While this is a time to focus on yourself, be mindful of the collaborative nature of many companies (and interviewers) as well. Success as a team is always more meaningful than success by yourself – be sure to call out specific times that required teamwork and communication to achieve the desired outcome.
Example: “By identifying and implementing a fix for the bug, we were able to reverse all of the negative effects on the user retention and revenue and brought them back to the levels we had before in a timely manner. We also worked with Engineering to build the right frameworks so that we could catch instances like these earlier next time.”