Finding the best talent remains one of the biggest challenges for HR managers in today’s world of work. The STAR method can be an important tool for thoroughly evaluating candidates. By applying this technique of interviewing, employers can ensure that they select the most promising candidates.
In the following blog we explain how the STAR interview method works and what needs to be taken into account when using it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is the STAR model?
- How does the STAR approach work?
- Using the STAR technique (Example)
- Common STAR method questions
- Who is the STAR method particularly suitable for?
- Software for talent acquisition ✅
What is the STAR model?
HR managers often ask themselves how best to proceed in interviews in order to find suitable candidates for an advertised position.
In this context, the STAR model is a method for evaluating applicants during interviews or selection processes.
What does the acronym STAR stand for?
The STAR method is a framework for asking and answering job interview questions. It stands for “Situation”, “Task”, “Action” and “Result”.
Star Method Interview Benefits
Using the STAR Method, HR managers can ask structured, behavior-based questions in job interviews and systematically evaluate candidates’ answers.
Using these techniques easily exposes lies, untruths and superficial statements made by applicants. The method proves that it is not uncommon for applicants to cheat on their CVs or when it comes to their skills and competencies in order to land a position.
A study by Forbes found that 80 percent of applicants would lie during a job interview. 52 percent lie about their job title to make it sound more impressive and 24 percent made up the position completely.
With the STAR method, such lies can be easily exposed in the job interview, especially when it comes to skills.
This method is still relatively unknown to many HR professionals in the US, but it is becoming more and more relevant. The interview technique is particularly suitable for dealing with a large number of applicants and job interviews.
How does the STAR approach for interview work?
The STAR method (and the associated interview technique) is made up of four elements:
Situation (S): In this step, job applicants are asked to describe a specific situation or challenge that they have experienced in the past. This situation should be relevant to the position or skills.
Task (T): Applicants are asked to explain the specific tasks or responsibilities that were associated with the situation described. This helps to deepen the understanding of the candidate’s role and requirements.
Action (A): Here candidates describe the specific actions they took to overcome the task or challenge. This includes what they personally did to deal with the situation.
Result (R): Finally, applicants are asked to present the result or outcome of their actions. Ideally, positive outcomes or learning experiences should be highlighted.
By surveying candidates using the STAR technique, HR managers gain detailed insight into the experiences, skills and performance of applicants. This makes it easier to compare applicants and helps select those who best meet the requirements of the position. The technique can be a valuable addition to your talent acquisition toolkit.
Using the STAR technique
The fastest way to gain a deeper understanding of this interview technique is by taking a look at a few examples. Read on to see the method in practice.
STAR method examples
A well-known company example that regularly uses the STAR principle in job interviews is Amazon.
Amazon Interview Questions and Answers
The questions may vary depending on the position. Amazon, for example, differentiates between technical and behavioral interviews.
As part of the STAR method, the behavioral questions are of course particularly interesting. These are related to situations or challenges that the applicants have experienced in the past and their approach to them.
STAR interview examples Amazon
Amazon itself gives some examples of behavior-based questions on its website:
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem and how did you decide what to do? What was the outcome?
- When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond? How did you grow from it?
- Describe a time you took the lead on a project.
- What did you do when you needed to motivate a group or promote collaboration on a project?
- How have you used data to develop a strategy?
STAR method interview practice example
A very specific example of a question and a corresponding answer based on the STAR principle for a customer service position could look like this:
Star Method Interview
- HR professionals: “Describe a situation from your last place of employment in which a dissatisfied customer contacted you.”
- Applicant: “A customer called angrily and complained that his order had not yet arrived. He has been waiting for his package for 3 weeks.”
- HR manager: “What tasks were involved in solving this problem?”
- Applicant: “I had to immediately deal with the customer’s request and find out what went wrong in the delivery process.”
- HR manager: “What specific measures have you taken?”
- Applicant: “I responded to the customer’s email, apologizing on behalf of the company and letting them know that I would look into the matter and get back to them as soon as possible with a result. I gathered the details and investigated why the package had not yet been delivered. I discovered that the product the customer wanted would not be available for another week. However, this information was visible to the customer when confirming the order as the expected delivery date was shown to him. He just overlooked it. I wrote to the customer and informed him about the status of things.”
- HR manager: “What were the results of these measures?”
- Applicant: “The customer thanked him and was no longer upset about the outstanding package.”
Tips and tricks for interview techniques using the STAR method
What should you as a human resources manager pay particular attention to when using this method? If you follow these tips, nothing can go wrong.
- Ask specific questions. Ask applicants for specific examples of their skills and experience.
- Let applicants have their say. Give them time to tell their story.
- Ask for details. Ask applicants to provide specific details about their actions and results.
- Be prepared. Before the interview, think of questions to ask using the STAR method.
- Be attentive. Listen carefully to the applicants and note important details.
- Be fair. Ask all applicants the same questions.
- Get candidates to think about their skills and experience. Ask applicants what they learned from the situation.
- Inform candidates in advance that you will use the STAR method in the interview. This gives applicants the opportunity to prepare well for the interview.
- Please also read the tips that Amazon gives its applicants.
For more help during the hiring process, download our hiring process checklist by clicking on the banner below!
Common STAR method questions
Other typical questions apart from the examples above may include:
- Describe a situation in which you dealt with a difficult customer.
- Tell me about a project you led.
- Share a moment when you overcame a challenge.
- Share a moment when you demonstrated your leadership skills.
- Describe a moment when you demonstrated your ability to work as a team.
Of course, the right questions depend heavily on the position in question and the skills required for it. Of course, you don’t need to ask applicants applying for a customer service position questions that focus on leadership qualities.
Who is the STAR method suitable for?
STAR interviews are not particularly suitable for every type of company. It’s important to keep in mind to follow general interviewing best practices when looking for the best candidates, but that interview methods are only a rough guideline for methods of finding the best talent. Adapt any method you may choose to your own needs as a recruiter or employer.
Here are the types of companies that the STAR technique is mostly suited for:
- Large companies: Companies with large human resources departments and many applications benefit from a standardized method like STAR to ensure fair and consistent selection.
- Companies with complex positions: Positions that require specific skills, experiences and behaviors, such as management positions, technical or scientific jobs, can benefit from the structure and depth that the STAR Method provides.
- Organizations with strong values and company culture: When company culture and values play an important role in personnel selection, the STAR method can help ensure that candidates not only have the required skills, but also fit the culture.
The STAR method proves to be extremely useful, particularly for large companies that process a large number of applications and have complex positions to fill. But also for small and medium-sized companies that have very specific requirements for their applicants.
It makes it possible to identify the best talent and ensure that they not only have the necessary skills but also fit the company culture. Employers should prepare before using the STAR method. Remember to formulate clear questions and ultimately give applicants the opportunity to showcase their skills and experience. Read our guide for more interview question ideas.
Additionally, tools like Factorial HR software can further streamline the selection process by making applicant data management and the interview process easier.