Job interviews are quite like the maze in the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. They’re overrun with obstacles and unexpected challenges.

To reach the end of the maze, you must use your strengths to your advantage. At the same time, you should know how to leverage your weaknesses to tackle tough questions.

Difficult questions are inevitable in an interview. Interviewers often ask what are known as situational questions to judge a candidate’s ability to use their strengths under pressure. The interviewer presents you with a situation—a conflict, a setback or a crisis—and you have to describe how to deal with it.

An effective way to tackle situational questions is the STAR approach. The STAR approach or method has become increasingly popular among hiring managers as it provides a streamlined way to assess if a candidate is suitable for a particular position.

Let’s take a look at the STAR interview method and see how you can use it to ace situational questions.

The STAR Interview Method

The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This methodology is best used to answer STAR interview questions, which are used to judge a candidate’s efficiency in the face of crisis or conflict.

Here’s an example of a situational question and the STAR approach to answer it:

  1. Say your co-worker has a habit of passing their work on to you, even when you have a lot on your plate. How do you plan to put a stop to it?

You reach out to your manager and call a meeting to find a solution.

This approach shows that instead of arguing with your co-worker or wasting time on gossip, you chose to find an efficient solution. You discussed the problem and reached a win-win outcome.

Let’s take another example and come up with an answer based on the STAR methodology.

  1. Ratih works as a social media manager at a travel agency. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had to cancel a lot of bookings. Now, Ratih is faced with a deluge of refund-related questions from angry customers.

The interview question is: What does she do?

Ratih decides to set up a feedback portal containing FAQs and a timeline for processing refunds. As soon as the portal is up, customers get a chance to address their concerns by simply feeding in their booking ID. Her team is also able to tackle multiple queries in one day, thereby resolving the customers’ issues quickly.

Let’s break down the STAR interview technique using Ratih’s example:

  1. Situation

This describes the setting or environment in question. You could be working in a team or independently. It could also be a new project or a setback you experienced at work. In Ratih’s case, the Situation was the sudden cancellation of bookings due to COVID-19 and the refund requests that followed.

  1. Task

The Task defines your roles and responsibilities in the given Situation. It describes what you were required to do as part of your job to resolve the issue. Ratih’s Task was to address the refund requests and queries as best as she could.

  1. Action

This is the solution that you devised to address the Task. Remember to highlight only your actions because it’s your job interview. Even if you came up with the solution in collaboration with someone, the hiring manager wants to know what you brought to the table. In Ratih’s case, she decided to take Action by setting up an efficient feedback portal.

  1. Result

The Result is the outcome of your Action. Mention if you were successful in achieving your desired goal. If you faced a setback at this stage, talk about it and explain how you tackled it. In Ratih’s case, she had a positive Result because she was able to pacify the customers in a timely manner.

Why The STAR Technique?

The STAR technique provides evidence for your claims. If you tell the hiring manager that you’re a good problem-solver, you must support your claim with proof. It’s not enough to simply state your strengths or how you overcame your weaknesses. The STAR technique can help support your answers and show that you’re a worthy candidate for the job.

The STAR interview technique also shows that you have the presence of mind to answer difficult questions. The ability to think back on your experience and find a suitable answer shows quick-thinking. This is a critical skill in a high-powered work environment.

If you’re able to communicate your ideas clearly and succinctly to your hiring manager, nothing can stop you from getting the job. Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course will teach you everything you need to know to ace your job interview. With powerful frameworks like the PAM (Purpose-Audience-Message) framework, you can easily crack a STAR interview question. Land the job of your dreams with perseverance, presence of mind and preparation.


Explore topics such as Self-Introduction for Interview, Guide to Answering “Tell Me About Yourself”, Top 50 Interview QuestionsTips for Interview & How to Prepare for an Online Interview on the Harappa blog and learn to answer any interview question easily.

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