STAR Interview


The term STAR interview refers to a technique that requires the job candidate to respond in a prescribed format.  STAR is an abbreviation that describes the appropriate order and information a job candidate should provide in their response to the interview question:  Situation, Task, Action and Result.


Also known as a behavioral interview, the STAR interview technique requires the interviewee to describe a situation they've encountered in the past.  Unlike traditional interview questions that allow the candidate to answer "hypothetically," a STAR interview forces the interviewee to describe a situation they've encountered in the past.  This technique is thought to be more effective, since it allows the interview team to better understand the challenges the candidate has faced in the workplace, and determine if they are qualified to fill the opening.

When responding to the interview question, it's important for the team to understand the job candidate's role.  For this reason, candidates are encouraged to speak in subjective case first person singular, or I.


The following illustrates the type of question asked during a behavioral interview:

"Describe for me a time when you were given an assignment and there wasn't enough time to complete it.  What did you do?"

When responding to this question, the following format is used.  The candidate should be careful to cover all sections of the STAR and answer as if telling a story:

  • Situation:  the candidate should first describe the background, or setting, in which they were placed so the interview team has some context for the remainder of the story.
  • Task: the candidate should next describe the task they undertook to solve the problem.  Here it's important for the interview team to understand the individual's exact role.
  • Action:  after describing the task(s), the interviewee should then describe all of the actions they took.  At this point, the interviewee will talk about the skills they used to solve the challenge.
  • Result:  finally, the job candidate should explain the outcome, or results, of their actions.  Quantifying the results adds to the credibility of the response, for example:

"After negotiating the deliverable with the head of customer service, I was able to deliver a preliminary report one day ahead of schedule.  I followed up with a full report and presentation five work days later."

Related Terms

job interview, screening interview, phone interview, panel interview, stress interviewexit interview, case interview, illegal interview questions, informational interview, open interview, second interview, stay interview