STAR Job Interviews

Man and woman in STAR type interview.One topic on Career Lantern that receives a lot of attention from my readers and podcast listeners is the behavioral job interview. Also known as a “STAR” interview, this popular interview technique used by employers is the one that seems to be the most intimidating and problematic for job candidates. In addition to this Q&A article, you will find several helpful resources on Career Lantern regarding STAR interviews (links located at the end of this post).

Q:   What exactly is a behavioral job interview?

A:    With this interview type, candidates are asked to recall and describe a past, real-world situation they have experienced relating to a particular behavior as specified by the interviewer.

Q:   What do you mean by a “particular behavior?”

A:    For example, the interviewer will ask the candidate to describe an actual situation involving a specific issue such as customer service, conflict, stress, honesty, multiple priorities, etc. The resulting behavior in that situation is what is of interest to the interviewer.           

Q:   Why are interviewers interested in past situations?

A:    Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. In other words, how you handled a past situation involving customer service, conflict, etc. might predict how you are apt to behave in a similar future situation. Your answers may also reveal your true underlying attitudes toward people, work, ethics, and so forth.

Q:   How do you know when you are being asked a behavioral-type question during a job interview?

A:    Behavioral questions typically begin with an opening phrase such as “Tell me about a time that…” or “Describe for us a time that…” or something similar.

Q:   Why are these often referred to as “STAR” interviews?

A:    In reality, STAR does not refer to the interview itself but to the acronym of the preferred approach to answering behavioral-type questions.

Q:   Why is the STAR approach such a good way to answer behavioral job interview questions?

A:    Quite simply, when a candidate uses the STAR approach, they will answer every aspect of the question asked. Their response will be complete and provide all the details sought by the interviewer. Additionally, recalling the acronym will help the candidate remember to include each required part of the answer. Continue reading

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