STAR interview is a fancy name for something that has been around for years–the situational and behavioral interviewing for a job. Asking about various situations from your past (mostly work-related), interviewers try to understand your way of thinking, attitude to work, and how you would approach similar situations in your new job, situations that you may likely encounter in the workplace. Before we look at some sample questions and answers, let me explain the abbreviation STAR.


S – Situation from the past, mostly work-related, relevant for the job you try to get. In some cases (entry level jobs) the situation can relate to your personal life, or studies. The situation can also be fictive, and they can ask you what you would do, instead of what you really did in the situation. Nevertheless, future or past, the concept remains the same :).

T – Task you had to accomplish, the task you were (would be) supposed to accomplish in a given situation (S). Basically your goal, the target, the desired result.

A – Action you took, will take, or would take, in the situation (S), to accomplish your task (T) which is described in the particular interview question. You should think out loud, and explain your course of action, step by step. While the letters “S” and “T” signify parts of the question, action is where your interview answer really starts.

R – Result you achieved with the action (A) which you took in the situation (S), trying to accomplish the task (T). Similarly to the action, result is a part of your interview answer–or at least it should be… It is becoming a little confusing, isn’t it? Let’s have a look at some examples that will help you to understand it better.


Examples of STAR interview questions

Example 1: fictive scenario-situational question

Question: Imagine that your superior makes e a wrong decision and you spot their mistake. The wrong decision can lead to a substantial financial loss for the company (Situation). What will you do to make sure the company avoids the loss (Task)?

Sample answer: I will ask the manager for a short one on one meetings, to have a look at issue. We will go through the problem, and I will try to help them to spot the mistake, without pointing it out. They will find the mistake, and remedy it, without feeling embarrassed by me showing them the mistake. Only if they do not find the mistake while studying the papers with me, I will pint it our, in a polite way (Action). In this way the company avoids the financial loss, the manager keeps their dignity in the eyes of other employees, and our relationship may also improve (Result).


Example 2: real situation, behavioral question

Question: Recall a time when you fell behind with your schedule at work (Situation). Tell us what you did in order to handle the heavy workload, and to get back on schedule (Task).

Sample answer: I remember a time when I was working on a development of a game for mobile devices, in my last job. I was leading a small team of developers, and we had clear milestones with the project. As one point I realized we were slowly falling behind with the schedule and I took an action immediately. I had a one on one with each team member, going through their work, trying to realize why we fell behind (Action). I eventually found out that one of the programmers struggled with certain tasks, but did not want to admit it, and the piece of code they did not deliver was blocking the entire project. We went over it together, I allocated the task to other programmer, they took care of it, and we eventually got back on schedule (Result).

Four job applicants are nervously waiting for an interview. We can not see their heads, just their bodies, but their body langiage betrays a lot of stress.

Long list of behavioral questions (for the STAR method), logic of interviewing

Asking about your behavior in various work-related situations helps us to get a good grasp of your attitude to work, your way of thinking, as well as your readiness for a particular job. Whether we call this form of interviewing situational, behavioral, STAR, or even something else, does not matter much at the end of the day. The concept remains the same, and so does your goal in this interview: To convince us of your right attitude to different situations you’d experience in work.

Let’s have a look at more questions you may face in the STAR interview:

  • Describe a conflict you had with a colleague. What did you do to solve a conflict?
  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Tell me about an obstacle you overcame. What steps did you take to overcome it?
  • Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong. How did you handle that?
  • Give an example of a time you showed initiative at work.
  • Tell us about a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. Describe the impact it had on you and on other people you cooperated with.
  • Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time you had to comply with a policy or procedure that you did not agree with. How did you cope with such a situation?
  • What is the most competitive situation you’ve ever experienced? Describe us in detail how you coped with it.
  • Tell us about a time when you had to work on multiple projects simultaneously. How did you prioritize?

* If you find the questions difficult, or have no idea what you would say to the hiring managers, have a look at a new eBook I put together for you, Ace Your Behavioral-Based Job Interview. Up to 7 premium answers to 31 tricky behavioral-based questions (questions for STAR interview format), including answers for people without previous working experience, will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and walk away with a new employment contract. Thank you for checking it out, I wish you best of luck in your interview!



May also interest you:

  • How to overcome interview nerves – Simple guide that will help you to calm down before your interview. You need to show your very best on the big day. Make sure that your nerves won’t put a dent to your chances of succeeding in the interviews.
  • Salary negotiation tips – At the end of the day, money matters. We have to pay our bills, and we also want to enjoy our time when we are not working (at least on Sunday). Learn how to convince the hiring managers to make a better offer, and get as much as you deserve.
Matthew Chulaw
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