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How to Use the STAR Method To
Ace The Interview

The interview process can be broken down into three distinct phases: your research and practice in the days leading up to the actual interview, your performance the day of the interview, and your follow-up afterward to gauge your success. How you prepare for the interview and what you do afterward is just as important as your performance when you’re sitting in the interview room.

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Table of Contents

Start By Doing Your Research

Use resources like Yahoo Finance!, D&B Hoovers, Google News, and the company’s website to learn more about its business model, the competition in its marketplace, industry news, and other key pieces of information that will help you determine if the company is financially stable. In addition, reach out to anyone you know who currently works or previously worked for the company; use sites like Glassdoor, Vault, and CareerBliss; and check out the company’s social media accounts — especially if they use social media to recruit — to research the company culture. This will help you determine if a prospective employer is the right fit for you — not just if you are the right type of employee for them. Remember, you can have the perfect skill set for the job, but if you’re not a good cultural fit, you won’t be successful.

How To Prepare for the Interview

Star Interview Response Method

How to Ace the Interview

Although at the time they might seem larger than life, interviewers are people just like you. That means they are susceptible to the same psychological preferences and cognitive biases that affect the rest of us. Simple tweaks to the way you speak and conduct yourself can make you seem much more likable, competent, and hirable in their eyes.

Take a second look at the job description to get a better understanding of what qualifications the hiring manager cares most about when filling the position. In other words, identify what about your work experience, skills, and accomplishments you should work into your conversation with the interviewer. If you have a contact who works for the company, this would be a good time to reach out and ask for that person’s insights into the company’s hiring process and the group of people with whom you’ll interview. This will show the interviewer that you’re truly interested in the role and have done your homework.

Once you know the name of the person who will be interviewing you, do as much research as you can about this person so you can use this in the interview. For example, if you know your interviewer really values community service and you do, too, try to work that topic into your conversation.

While it’s illegal in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and New York City to ask about your previous salary, there’s no law in place in the U.S. to prevent an employer from asking about your salary requirements. Before you jump on a call or schedule an in-person interview for a role, use sites like Paysa,, PayScale, and Glassdoor to find out the pay range for your target role, taking the company’s location, size, and industry into account.

Make a list of the interview questions that make you nervous so you can practice your responses, such as “Tell me about yourself.” Don’t memorize your answer, as you won’t win any brownie points with your interviewer if your responses come off as too rehearsed. However, it’s important to have a few bullet points prepared that remind you of the main points you want to cover in your response.

Ask questions during the interview to make sure this job opportunity is right for you, given your current job goals, ideal working environment, company culture, and other factors that are important to you. Put together a list of questions to ask the hiring manager during the interview process.

What is the best time to conduct the interview?

According to Glassdoor, the “best” time to arrange an interview is the time that is best for the interviewer — not the time that is best for you. If the interviewer wants to set a specific time, find a way to accommodate his or her schedule.

However, if the hiring manager offers you some flexibility in choosing an interview time, ask if you could come in mid-morning, like around 10:30 a.m.

In general, you should avoid early-morning meetings because your interviewer may still be preoccupied with everything they need to get done that day. You will also want to avoid being the last meeting of the workday, as your interviewer may already be thinking about what they need to accomplish at home.

One study, from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, found that applicants who interviewed at the end of a day after a series of strong candidates were rated lower than expected. On the other hand, those who interviewed after a series of weak candidates were rated higher than expected. If you are lucky enough to have any knowledge of who else is interviewing and when; choose to come in after comparatively unqualified candidates.

Dress and Body Language

A CareerBuilder survey of hiring managers and human-resources professionals found that different clothing colors convey distinct impressions. Twenty-three percent of interviewers recommended wearing blue, which suggests that the candidate is a team player, while 15% recommended black, which suggests leadership potential.

If you feel yourself fiddling with your tie or hair during the interview, make a conscious effort to place your hands on the table or on your knees. Don’t let your body language betray you during your interview.

On the other hand, you do not want to hold your palms downward, which is a sign of dominance. You’ll also want to avoid concealing your hands, which looks like you have something to hide; tapping your fingers, which shows impatience; folding your arms, which indicates disappointment; and overusing hand gestures, which can be distracting.

If your interviewer is leaning forward in his chair and putting his hands on the table, feel free to do the same. Chances are he will not notice that you’re copying him. In one study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Florida and cited on PsyBlog, researchers found that students who ingratiated themselves with their interviewers, without coming across as self-promotional, were more likely to be recommended for the job.

How to  talk during the interview

As Jonathan Golding and Anne Lipert point out on Psychology Today, several studies have found that candidates who project energy and excitement are generally more likely to get the job. They write: “In particular, candidates with higher affect, energy level, and pitch and amplitude variability are significantly more likely to be invited back for a second interview than applicants who demonstrate lower affect, energy level, and pitch and amplitude variability.” Recent research suggests that seemingly idle chitchat before the interview really gets started — what psychologists call “rapport-building” — can make a big impact on the interviewer’s impression of you.

Here is a suggestion from professors at Ohio State University and the Kellogg School of Management. Writing in The Harvard Business Review, they say that the interviewer and the interviewee are often following “preprogrammed scripts,” with both focusing on the candidate’s resume. That is why they advise candidates to pause after the interviewer asks a question, instead of launching into a rote response.

Studies show successful applicants ingratiated themselves by praising the organization and indicating their enthusiasm for working there and complimented the interviewer. Success in business is often a matter of competing and cooperating, say Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, the business professors who wrote the book “Friend and Foe.” In a job interview, that means showing deference to your interviewer, while also demonstrating self-confidence.

“That reminds me of my work on [whatever area].” You are showing confidence that you’re taking the initiative to guide the conversation but also deferential in that you’re admiring your interviewer’s work. In answering the question “What’s your greatest weakness?” your initial impulse might be to craft a strategic response that really emphasizes your strengths.

It is wiser to say something genuine like, “I’m not always the best at staying organized,” which sounds more honest, and could make your interviewer more inclined to recommend you for the position. Interestingly, a 2016 study by a pair of Brown University researchers found that general bragging is more useful in certain contexts than in others.

If you want to sound smart, avoid speaking in a monotone. According to Leonard Mlodinow, author of “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior“: “If two speakers utter exactly the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent.

If you’re summarizing or going over your background, speak more quickly than when you are providing new information. When you’re introducing an important concept, slow down to give listeners time to absorb it.” Don’t be bashful — when your interviewer comes to greet you, look them in the eye.

One fascinating study, from the University of Guelph, in Canada, sought to address the reasons why candidates who seem anxious are less likely to land the job. Turns out, at least in mock interviews, it’s not nervous tics like fidgeting that hurt your chances. Rather, it could be that being anxious makes you seem less warm and assertive, and makes you speak slowly.

Powell told Forbes, “Don’t be afraid to take ownership of your contribution to a project.” Powell told Forbes that slow talking hurt candidates’ chances because interviewers may have assumed that the candidates were having a hard time answering their questions. You might be tempted to tell your interviewer all about your past accomplishments — but research suggests you should focus more on what you could do in the future if the organization hires you.

There is no need to scowl at your interviewer — but you’ll also want to avoid keeping a giant grin plastered across your face. In one study, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Northeastern University, and the University of Lausanne, researchers asked college students to role-play job interviews. They found that students who played candidates for the position of a newspaper reporter, manager, and research assistant were less likely to get the hypothetical job when they smiled — especially during the middle of the interviews.

How to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions 

Behavioral interview questions are questions about how you have behaved in the past. Specifically, they are about how you have handled certain work situations. Employers using this technique to analyze jobs and define the skills and qualities that high-level performers have exhibited in that job.

Given that past performance can be a great predictor of the future, recruiters ask behavioral interview questions to identify whether candidates have the experiences and skills required to excel in the job. For instance, companies might be searching for proof of problem-solving skills, analytical capability, imagination, determination through failure, composing skills, presentation skills, teamwork orientation, persuasive skills, quantitative skills, or precision.

Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions:

Give me a time when you had to finish a task under a tight deadline–tell me about a victory.

Tell me about a time when you have ever gone above and beyond the call of duty?

What do you do when an employee refuses to complete his/her quota of work?

How to Use the STAR Interview Response Method

Do you struggle to give concise answers to interview questions? Are you unsure how to share your accomplishments during an interview without sounding boastful? The STAR interview response method can help. Using this method of answering interview questions allows you to provide concrete examples or proof that you possess the experience and skills for the job at hand.

Listen to the question and think of an example where you performed this task

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Using this strategy is particularly helpful in response to competency-focused questions, which typically start out with phrases such as, “Describe a time when…” and “Share an example of a situation where….”

STAR is an acronym for four key concepts. Each concept is a step the job candidate can utilize to answer a behavioral interview question. By employing all four steps, the job candidate thereby provides a comprehensive answer. The concepts in the acronym comprise the following:

Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work. For example, perhaps you were working on a group project, or you had a conflict with a coworker. This situation can be drawn from work experience, a volunteer position, or any other relevant event. Be as specific as possible.

Task: Next, describe your responsibility in that situation. Perhaps you had to help your group complete a project within a tight deadline, resolve a conflict with a coworker, or hit a sales target.

Action: You then describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did. (Tip: Instead of saying, “We did xyx,” say “I did xyz.”)

Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken. It may be helpful to emphasize what you accomplished, or what you learned.

How to Prepare for an Interview Using STAR

Since you will not know in advance what interviewing techniques your interviewer will be using, you will benefit from preparing several examples from the jobs you have held in the past.

First, make a list of the skills and/or experiences that are required for the job. It may help you to look at the job listing and similar job listings for indications of the required or preferred skills/qualities and match your qualifications to those listed in the posting. Then, consider specific examples of occasions when you displayed those skills. For each example, name the situation, task, action, and result.

Whatever examples you select, make sure they are as closely related to the job you are interviewing for as possible.

How to Prepare for 7 Common Interview Questions


– Concentrate on telling them about your work-related skills as opposed to your home life. They are not interested in your home life.

– Review the requirements for the job and focus on telling them how your skills and attributes match the document.

– Use “power words” in your response, such as motivated, enthusiastic, loyal, flexible, committed, honest, hard-working, adaptable, etc. These will resonate positively with the interview panel.


– Tell them about the preparation work you have done in the build-up to the interview.

– Focus on the individual requirements, the job description, and information you have gleaned from the company’s website and also the literature you have studied during your research.


– Again, focus on the individual requirements for the job you are applying for.

– Say something different that makes you stand out from the other job applicants. Give an example of why you are better than the other applicants and try to make yourself RELATABLE and REAL!


– Do not tell them you plan to have moved on from their company, either internally or externally.

– Loyalty is very important to the vast majority of employers. Remember, they have to spend time, money, and resources training you up in the role, so they will want to see a return on their investment.

– Don’t tell them you want to be sitting where they are!


– Anyone who tells the interview panel they have no weaknesses will lose credibility. We all have weaknesses.

– Don’t give a weakness that is one of the key requirements of the role. For example, if punctuality and good timekeeping are important, don’t tell the panel you struggle getting out of bed in the morning!


– List the qualities I am going to give you in the sample answer that follows.

– Back up your answer with a specific example of when YOU have worked well as part of a team using the STAR technique.


– Try to give an example of when you have carried out a difficult task under strict time constraints.

– Give a specific example and do not forget to use the STAR technique in your response.

The Day of the Interview

Figure out the best way for you to release some of that pre-interview nervous energy and work it into your routine before your scheduled appointment. Whether it’s a morning run, a little meditation, or journaling, find what works for you and do it.

Plot out your commute and leave yourself plenty of time to compensate for any unforeseen traffic jams.

If you arrive more than 15 minutes before your interview, hang out at a nearby coffee shop. This will give you an opportunity to collect your thoughts before entering the building and allow you to observe some of your potential future colleagues. Assume your interview starts the moment you wake up and treat everyone you meet — from your fellow commuters to the receptionist at the building — as though they were part of the interview process.

The STAR Interview Response Method

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