How to Use the STAR Method When Interviewing Job Candidates

By April 27, 2023 March 29th, 2024 Building a Better Team

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Dave Schoenbeck

Interviewing can take months before you find the right candidate. The more integral or higher up the role, the longer it may take to find the right candidate. STAR method interviews are shorter since they cut through the ancillaries and tell the story that brings results. This style is the behavioral style of interviewing.

Read on to learn more about the STAR method of interviewing and how to implement this technique the next time you hire.

Using the STAR method, a male manager interviews a woman for a job.

What is the STAR Method?

The STAR method is the question-and-answer format for a behavioral interview to determine the culture fit. Hiring the wrong person can cost you time and your company money.

STAR method interviews help the candidate answer a direct question with context.

  • Situation: Set the scene and ask for details of your example.
  • Task: Describe your role and responsibilities in that situation.
  • Action: Explain what steps you took to address the problem.
  • Result: Share with me what you achieved.

All of the above allows the candidate to explain, and you glean insight into their mindset and potential capabilities in the new role. 

How to Use the STAR Method

The STAR method of interviewing is relatively straightforward. Even people without a background in human resources can appreciate the simple questions that result in insightful responses. 

STAR method interviews questions can include:

  • Tell me about your most significant professional accomplishment
  • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake
  • Give me an example of when data helped you solve a problem

The candidate should then set the scene for their success or mistake, tell you about their role, explain their steps to get there, and what the results were.

Behavioral-style interviews are exactly what it sounds like—gauge the candidate’s behaviors toward everyday tasks and responsibilities.

Generally, behavioral questions fall under the following categories:

  • Pressure and stress
  • Conflict and communication
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership and ownership
  • Problem-solving

Why Integrate the STAR Method?

As alluded to above, STAR method interview questions help clear out the clutter of unqualified candidates. However, you are likely to encounter candidates who share information that indicates they’re not the right fit for the role or may have lied on the last parts of the interview.

Some proven reasons to implement the STAR method include reduced recruitment costs, lower turnover, increased employee retention, and fair hiring practices. You can see the best candidates by listening to their answers. Past success does not always indicate future success but is a good benchmark for potential growth and success.

Lastly, just as a candidate might prepare for a behavior-style interview, you can prepare by answering the same questions for yourself. As you become more familiar with the STAR approach, you’ll likely understand where your candidate might have difficulty.

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