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STAR Interview: What It Is and How to Pass It Successfully

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Among the recruiter's working methods, there are many ways to test the potential employees to see if they are right for the job. For each position, the interview may take place differently. For example, some recruiters test the technical knowledge for a particular position. Others will apply the PARLA (Problem, Action, Result, Learning, & Application) or the STAR interview model.

As an interviewee it's important to be prepared with answers for any method a recruiter could use during the interview process if you want to have a leg up over other candidates. To help you to be fully prepared,  here's a deep dive into one style of interview: the STAR model. 


STAR Interview: What It Is and How to Pass It Successfully


What is a star interview?


The STAR model is a competency interview or behavioral interview.

Recruiters call interviews based on the STAR model the most difficult but most effective in selecting candidates. During the interview, the applicant is asked to tell real stories from their experience, and based on these stories, they are evaluated. Therefore, untrained candidates rarely pass such an interview successfully. After all, it is often tough to remember a story that will help emphasize your professionalism in a particular situation in conditions of excessive excitement and stress.


The answer to the STAR model question consists of the following parts:


S – Situation - The situation that a candidate encountered. What is this situation? How did it arise and under what conditions did it occur? How important was it to work with?

T - Task - The task that the candidate was facing. Who set the task: the manager or you personally?

A - Action - Your specific actions to solve the problem. What difficulties did you encounter during this work? What did you do to solve the issue? What did you feel?

R - Result – the result that was achieved. Specific examples with numbers that can demonstrate these results.


The STAR method is suitable not only for experienced candidates. After all, it is quite possible to show your competencies for a vacant position thanks to examples of stories from university or everyday life.


How do I prepare for a star interview?

When preparing for such an interview, it is important to start not from the competencies themselves, but situations. You need to build the response based on the model given above.

So: Read the vacancy and, based on the requirements, choose 4-5 stories that can show your experience and work results as a response to these requirements. It is important to analyze the situation by its importance and your role in solving it because everyday situations in which you were more of an observer will not help you get an offer in any way.

Remember as many details as possible in the selected situations. Here you need everything you did, said, behaved, felt, what other people said and did.

Decompose the situation into the S-T-A-R model (see above).

To describe the situation's results, you can also add an item about your conclusions drawn from this situation, what it could teach you, and so on.


Example of answering a question based on the STAR model

The answer to the recruiter's question: "Tell us about the time when you showed your leadership qualities" can be something like this:

"When I worked for company N, there were massive layoffs due to quarantine and the crisis. As a result, there are still several employees in the team who were overworked. This led to their dissatisfaction, errors during operation, and reduced productivity."

I needed to get them back to their previous performance.

So I gathered the whole team and thanked them for their good work in times of crisis. Then I told all the employees to come up with some ideas to improve the efficiency of our work. We recorded all the ideas and voted for the top 5.

The team felt elated because their opinions were being listened to. Therefore, employees focused all their energy on work and not on complaints about life. The ideas proposed at the meeting were implemented: we abandoned the time eaters and began to work more efficiently. My manager even asked me to share this technique with other managers."


Preparation is essential for any interview, and even more so for the STAR interview. It's good if the recruiter warns you about the interview format, but you should have at least one winning competency story before any interview.


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About the author: Donald Mena is a recruitment agent, content creator, and contributor to WritingAPaper, where anyone can buy essay. He is also passionate about fashion and sustainability.

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