Chances are that you have heard of the STAR response. But do you know how to use it without sounding like a robotic news reporter.

The STAR response

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results. It’s a great template for answering those behavioural questions that start with “Give us an example of a time when you…”. What I really love about using the STAR response is that it’s more than just a template. The STAR response allows you to time to think so your answers sounds coherent – even if you’re freaking out!

Let’s practice this with a standard interview question: “Give us an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer”.

If you’ve ever worked in any kind of customer service role you’ll be able to answer this easily!

Say the first employer that comes to mind. Start by explaining the challenging Situation and how your got there.

“My first job was at the counter of Budget Burgers. Sometime customers would be served the wrong meal or be overcharged and they would get angry.”

Next is your Task. What responsibility did you have to fix this situation?

“I would try to calm them down and find out what the problem was.”

The Action part is where you say specifically what you would do – what actions you would take – to complete your Task.

“I would listen to their complaint and I would try to understand what happened. If I could fix the problem, like a wrong order, I would fix it. If it was an overcharge or some other kind of issue I would offer an alternative or ask if they wanted to speak to my manager.”

Finally, it’s time to let the interviewers know about your great Results! Where your Actions successful, and what did you learn?

“I found that by calmly talking through the issue and showing understanding, the customer calmed down faster. Fixing it myself was the fastest solution and always worked well. But when I couldn’t fix it and I offered an alternative and the option to speak to my manager, the customer had choices and felt like they were in control and they were less likely to argue and more likely to want to offer solutions or accept one of mine. When I was a trainee I would call my manager over a lot, but I learned from watcher her way of dealing with the customers and I became better at it.”

That’s it! When the interviewers ask the question, don’t get overwhelmed, just think of each part of STAR one piece at a time and it will all come together. In your mind, you’ll be thinking “What was my task back then in that situation? What actions did I take? How did it all end?”. All the interviewer will hear is one coherent answer.

“My first job was at the counter of Budget Burgers. Sometime customers would be served the wrong meal or be overcharged and they would get angry. I would try to calm them down and find out what the problem was. I would listen to their complaint and I would try to understand what happened. If I could fix the problem, like a wrong order, I would fix it. If it was an overcharge or some other kind of issue I would offer an alternative or ask if they wanted to speak to my manager. “I found that by calmly talking through the issue and showing understanding, the customer calmed down faster. Fixing it myself was the fastest solution and always worked well. But when I couldn’t fix it and I offered an alternative and the option to speak to my manager, the customer had choices and felt like they were in control and they were less likely to argue and more likely to want to offer solutions or accept one of mine. When I was a trainee I would call my manager over a lot, but I learned from watcher her way of dealing with the customers and I became better at it.”

Recruitloop has a good list of different behavioural questions, such as “Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.” Have a go and if you want to share your answers, put them in the comments below.

 

Cover image from Pixabay. It has awesome cat pics.

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