How to use the STAR Approach to Answer Behavioural Interview Questions

What are behaviour questions?

Behavioural questions are questions about a specific situations in your past work experience, and they typically start with “tell me about a time when you…”, or  “Describe how you handle…”, or  “Can you give me an example of …”.

When employers ask behaviour questions, what they actually want to understand is whether a candidate is capable of taking proper actions whenever a similar situation happens.

Are there any “correct” answers of behaviour questions?

No. there are no correct answers of behavioural questions, and it is NOT recommended to memorise any templates answers.

Can STAR approach help me answer behavioural questions?

Yes. STAR approach is an powerful way to help you explain in a simple but effective way how you handled specific work situations and challenges.

The STAR format stands for Situation, Task, Action and Results.

  • Situation: An event, project, or challenge faced
  • Task: Your responsibilities and assignments for the situation
  • Action: Steps or procedure taken to relieve or rectify situation
  • Result: Results of actions taken.

 

Sounds simple, right? Let’s go through one typical example.

“Can you tell me a time you had a conflict at work.”

Step 1- we start with describing the situation.

When I was working as a consultant, a client called wondering if he can get some data report immediately.

Step 2 – describe the task.

I needed to understand the stakeholder’s immediate concern and find out what we can do for the stakeholder urgently.

Step 3- then the action taken to solve the problem

I found out this data report was not an overdue task but something ad hoc, and this report was for an urgent presentation. I therefore reported to my line manager and suggested that we may want to come up with some quick wins, such as some insights based on data, to assist him to complete the presentation first.

Step 4 – Finally the results of the actions

The client was happy with our quick response and agile attitude, and his presentation went well with the provided insights, and he even was happy to extended our next due date.

Not as hard as you thought, right?

You understand the STAR format interview, and what behavioural questions are as well as how to answer it.

Now let’s look a list of typical STAR interview questions, and practice, practice, practice!

  • Can you describe a stressful situation and how you handled it?
  • Can you detail a mistake you made and how you reacted to it?
  • Tell me about a time when you performed well under enormous pressure.
  • Have you ever dealt with a sticky situation involving another department?
  • Give me an example of a goal you met.
  • Give me an example of a goal you couldn’t meet and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to placate an unsatisfied client.
  • Have you ever had a disagreement with an immediate supervisor?

Here are some rule of thumbs when you prepare your personal STAR answers.

Be prepared

You may want to prepare by scenarios, for example,  you will have one story for a difficult situation, and one story for a conflict situation, as well as one story for an achievement situation separately.  Same stories may be suitable for multiple questions.

Be honest

Never making up stories, as the fake stories are very easy to be discovered by experience employers.

Be brief

Avoid taking too much! Answer your questions concisely.

Be Positive

Do not reveal any confidential information of your former employers and never say negative words about them either. Stay positive.

Still not sure how to prepare your tailored STAR interview answers? Give us a shout in…. CTA …….and we will answer your questions! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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