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Be the STAR of Your Interview

You got the call! Time for the interview. This is your opportunity to wow the employer with your skills, passion, and knowledge. Yet, no matter if it’s your first job or your dream job, nerves can get in the way.

It's important to get organized and think about how to shine in the interview. Stay on topic and answer an interviewer's questions confidently with the STAR interview technique.

What Is STAR?

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. The STAR method will help you answer questions about your experiences, such as "Tell me about a time when..." and "Share an example of..." Employers ask these types of questions to see how you have handled past situations.

  • Situation: Briefly describe a situation where you performed or faced a challenge. For example, you were working with a client, or you had a conflict with a colleague. These situations can be from a work experience, a volunteer position, or any other relevant setting.
  • Task: Next, describe your role and the goal you needed to achieve. Were you supervising a student, leading a meeting, or working with a client and their family?
  • Action: Then, describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did rather than on what your team, boss, or co-worker did. The interviewer should understand the steps you took and how you contributed to the final result. Don't be afraid to say "I."
  • Result: Finally, explain the outcomes. Emphasize what you accomplished or what you learned.

Preparing for an Interview Using STAR

Start with a list of the skills and/or experiences required for the job. Then, consider specific examples of times in which you displayed those skills.

Example: How have you handled a difficult situation with a client and their family?

  • Situation: While working in a middle school, I worked with parents who were concerned that their child did not have functional communication skills necessary for independence and vocation. The student had an existing IEP, but these new concerns came up more than halfway through the school year.
  • Task: I developed tasks for the student that addressed the parents’ concerns while still meeting goals and objectives in his IEP.
  • Action: I worked with the student to answer critical thinking questions and to provide rationales using functional materials, including maps and menus. I had always communicated regularly with the parents, but to keep them in the loop on the student's progress, I made sure to provide specific feedback related to the specific concerns that they had identified.
  • Result: By the end of the school year, the student was able to use language to answer questions and to ask for assistance and guidance when necessary. The parents felt that I had listened to them and that efforts had been made to help the student become successful in carrying over skills into his daily life.

Think about what other types of questions you may be asked. You can take a look at common behavioral interview questions from The Balance, and try answering each of them using the STAR technique.