Acing the Interview

Practice the STAR Technique

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you describe.

Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. This should be a specific event or situation, not a generalized description. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

What goal were you working toward? What was the problem? What was your role?

Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on you by using the word "I" not "we" when describing actions. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution, not just the team’s?

Describe the outcome of your actions and take credit for your successes. What happened in the end? What did you accomplish? If the result was less positive, what did you learn?

Sample Question 1

Tell me about a time you demonstrated excellent communication skills.

Situation: During my sophomore year at the University of Georgia, I demonstrated excellent communication skills serving as co-captain on my ultimate Frisbee intramural team.

Task: Our goal was to win the playoffs, and as one of the team captains of the 12 players I had to make sure to communicate with everyone so we understood the plan and strategy.

Action: I organized practiced times twice a week, communicated via group text, and sent calendar invites to everyone. I also recorded our practices and sent them via email afterwards so that my teammates could re-watch the moves we practiced together.

Result: Because of all the steps that I took to communicate with my team, we felt prepared for the playoffs and won the series. My teammates told me how much they appreciated my reminders and videos as it helped them feel more confident on what role they played on game day. I learned that communication is extremely important for a team to be successful.

Sample Question 2

Tell me about a time you failed at something.

Situation: When I was a first-year student, I was enrolled in a First-Year Odyssey course to learn more about the University and make connections with other first-year students.

Task: To learn more about each other, the class was required to do discussion posts every week on a different topic related to what we were learning in class and then respond to two of our classmates' reflections.

Action: I was having an extremely busy week with my academic course load and organization involvement, and I forgot to contribute to the discussion post and lost several points in the class.

Result: Ever since I made this mistake, I now use my Outlook calendar in the beginning of every week to organize my school work and involvement. I also review all my syllabi in the beginning of the semester to put the due date of any major assignments so that I can plan ahead. Since implementing this, I have not missed any more assignments.