The STAR interview technique

The STAR interview technique is a sure fire way to ace the interview everytime.

  • S stands for Situation
  • T for Task
  • A for Action
  • R for Result

The STAR method works like this. When asked an interview question, you begin by describing the Situation or Task first. The next step is by explaining the Action involved or steps you took to meet your goal or accomplish a task. Finally, you provide the interviewer with the Result which can include your success, failure, or lessons learning. I suggest sticking to the successes and wow them with the lessons learned. Keep that interview positive!!!

It’s easy to use the STAR technique. The key is to providing an answer the interview question that relates to the position you are interviewing for. Do some research prior to the interview about the company and the position requirements. Keep a log or journal of the positions and their qualifications you have applied for. You will want to highlight the important skills and qualifiacations the company listed for the position using the STAR technique. This is extremely important. You wouldn’t talk about your experience with accounts payable reconciliation if the position was a Lab Technician would you?

When you are faced with an interview question such as, “Tell me about a time when you faced a situation where you exceed expectations.”


I was responsible for creating a marketing plan for a United Way fundraising campaign at my office for 300 employees. Our goal was to have 45% participation for the event and raise over $25,000 in donations.


I worked with my United Way representative regarding best practices and researched information about other successful campaigns at different businesses in our geographic region. Additionally, I created a United Way committee that met bi-monthly starting three months prior to the campaign and developed a marketing campaign that included fliers, emails, table tents, and a company wide kickoff meeting. We worked together to create a fun and exciting campaign with the help of our local United Way.


The result was that we the campaign exceeded our expectations. My company raised over $37,000 and had a participation rate of 51%! We were recognized our the annual United Way banquet for our efforts and received an award for the small to medium size business category. What I learned from the campaign was the importance of planning and utilizing your resources. Several employees on the committee had served in similar positions and were one of the keys to our success.

HMMMM. . . Sounds good, right!!!

I suggest using the STAR method for every interview question that begins with, “Tell me about a time” or “Give me an example.” It’s the best way to stay on track during the interview, not lose focus, or ramble which trust me, happens all too often. Prior to the interview, I suggest coming up with 3 or 4 STAR examples. Practice these with a friend or tape record yourself and listen. Make changes to your presentation as needed and feel confident.

You’ll be amazed. All sales and marketing professionals have a script from which they use to perfect their sales pitch and technique. Your interview should be no different especially given all the work you’ve gone getting their attention with your billboard-resume, coverletter, and emails. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is!! Searching for job is a full time job and preparation is key. You wouldn’t blindly take a midterm exam without studying or buy a car without doing some sort of research either online or using consumer reports?

Next time. . . Making an impression at the job fair. It’s not just for college graduates anymore.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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