What is the STAR method?

Découvrez la méthode STAR pour réussir vos entretiens d’embauche


The STAR method is a technique that has become indispensable in job interviews, enabling recruiters to determine who will be the best candidate for a position and to put themselves forward bystructuring their words more effectively. Although the STAR method is widely used, it is essential to understand it well if you are to use it effectively during your recruitment interviews. What is it, and how and when should it be used? Intuition Software explains it all to you:

Find out what the star method is and how to apply it during an interview.

What is the STAR method? Definition

The STAR method is a structured response technique (an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result) that enables candidates to present their qualities, skills and professional experience clearly and concisely. The aim is to go beyond describing your profile by presenting concrete examples of your past experience.

Taking the form of open-ended description, analysis or problem-solving questions posed by the recruiter, the STAR method enables candidates to demonstrate the behaviour they adopt in different work situations by being as structured and precise as possible.

This method is also very practical for recruiters, who can then analyse the different skills they feel are relevant to the job and how candidates manage to present them.

What is the STAR method?

The STAR method involves structuring your answers to targeted questions using examples of concrete achievements to support your arguments. Each letter in the acronym represents a stage in the response process:

  • Situation: this involves the candidate first describing a specific work situation they have encountered, to give the recruiter an idea of the overall context. For the recruiter, this gives an idea of the professional environment in which the candidate has evolved,to check whether this can be applied to the company;
  • Task: the candidate must then talk about their tasks and explain the tasks and challenges they faced in the situation described above. A candidate who correctly specifies their role, responsibilities and objectives shows the recruiter that they have a clear and structured approach to their work;
  • Action : once the context of the situation and the tasks to be carried out have been given, the candidate must describe the various actions taken to carry out the tasks. What measures have been taken? How did they solve this or that problem? The recruiter expects details of concrete actions that demonstrate the candidate’s ability to react and take decisions;
  • Outcome: Finally, the aim is to present an assessment of what has been achieved with the actions put in place. Whenever possible, recruiters will prefer to see figures to help them project the results achieved by the candidate. The recruiter is not necessarily looking for eye-watering figures, but simply concrete results that demonstrate the candidate’s expertise in his or her field.

Note: there is a variant of the STAR method: the STAR (R) method, which adds a reflection stage. This stage allows candidates to assess themselves in relation to the situation they have explained. This reflection enables the recruiter to assess the candidate’s ability to question themselves with a view to improving.

Why use the STAR method?

The STAR method offers a number of advantages for both candidates and recruiters, allowing for a more structured interview and therefore a better analysis and understanding of the candidate’s profile to see whether he or she would be a good fit with the company.

What are the advantages of the STAR method for candidates?

Using the STAR method, candidates will be able to :

  • Better structure your answers, to help you organise your ideas and present your experiences in a clear and coherent way, without spreading yourself too thinly.
  • Give more credibility to your speech by illustrating your past professional experience with concrete examples and situations.
  • Showcase your skills at the right time and in the right way, demonstrating your qualities with concrete examples and actions.
  • Stand out from other candidates by being better prepared and more structured in what you say, which will tend to give the recruiter more confidence.

What are the advantages of the STAR method for recruiters?

For the recruiter, the STAR method will give a precise idea of the candidate’s skills: hard skills, soft skills or mad skills.

It will also be easier for the recruiter to conduct the interview objectively and analyse the suitability of the candidate’s profile for the job, without being influenced by the candidate’s academic background or personality. Using the STAR method, they will find it easier to understand a candidate who is clear and methodical in his explanations of his ability to manage a project or a problem.

Using the STAR method sets you apart from other candidates

How do I use the STAR method?

To be successful at interview using the STAR method, candidates need to focus on their own achievements, skills and successes. To do this, it is essential to prepare for the interview in advance. It must :

  • Analyse the job advertisement and identify the topics to be covered that will highlight your skills for the position on offer;
  • Try to imagine and plan the questions the recruiter is likely to ask during the interview so that you can anticipate the answers you will give.
  • Identify STAR questions and answer them using the D-Day method.
  • Summarise your notes with a few key words so that you have them on the day of the interview.

As far as the recruiter is concerned, it’s the same thing. During the recruitment process, they will need to prepare the recruitment and interview in advance to identify the information they want to gather, so that they can plan the questions to ask. It is essential to define precisely what skills the candidate must have in order to be hired, because it is around these skills that the recruiter will direct his questions.

Prepare your interview in advance so that you can apply the STAR method during the interview.

When should the STAR method be used during the interview?

Recruiters tend to ask STAR questions when they are interested in a candidate’s skills. It is at this point that he will analyse the skills that he has pre-established as being important for the position. For example, a STAR question can be asked when the candidate does not give enough concrete examples to help them develop their answer.

Candidates must be able to recognise a STAR question, a question (or type of question) that they will ideally have prepared in advance. These questions often begin with “describe a situation where you…”, “what do you do when […]” or “give me an example of […]”.

If the recruiter asks an unexpected question, the candidate must not let it throw them off balance. A recruiter will appreciate the behaviour of a candidate who takes the time to think, even to look at his notes, to give an appropriate answer, rather than rushing in.

STAR method: sample questions

As a recruiter, once you have determined in advance the skills and information you want to obtain for the job, you can direct your questions accordingly. STAR questions should be open-ended enough to allow the candidate to demonstrate their experience with examples from real-life situations.

Here are some examples of open questions:

  • For situations: “Describe a situation in which you …?”; “Can you give me an example of a situation in which …?”.
  • For tasks: “What was your role in this project?”; “What tasks did you carry out as part of the team?”
  • For actions: “How did you manage to …?”; “What method did you use to …?”
  • For results: “What results did you obtain?”; “What did you learn from this experience?”
Questions that require an answer using the STAR method are open-ended questions.

STAR method: example of a structured response

To be as well prepared as possible for the job interview, the best thing to do is to prepare your answers to the STAR questions. Questions about a candidate’s ability to manage a project or solve a problem are often the most frequently asked, as they correspond perfectly to the use of the STAR method.

To give you a clearer idea of possible typical responses, here are two examples using the STAR method.

Example of a project management response

You have responded to a job offer, sent in a speculative application or taken part in a job dating event and landed an interview for a project manager position ? During the interview, the recruiter may ask you how you managed a project in your previous company. Using the STAR method, you can structure your answer as follows:

  • Situation : in my previous job as community manager, my company decided to set up a project to improve our visibility on social networks.
  • Task : as community manager, I was responsible for the content strategy to gain subscribers and strengthen our community over a period of 6 months.
  • Actions: to achieve this, I set up a precise editorial schedule, I obtained new collaborations with influencers, I used paid advertising and I set up performance analysis tools.
  • Results : Thanks to this strategy that I’ve put in place and these various actions, the number of subscribers has increased by (give figures), there’s been a better rate of audience engagement (give figures) and this has had an overall positive impact, as sales have increased (give figures).

Example of a problem-solving answer

During the interview, the recruiter may ask you how you managed to solve a specific problem in your company. Using the STAR method, you can have an answer structure as follows:

  • Situation : in my previous job as(job name), my company was experiencing recurrent delays in processing orders.
  • Task : as(job name) I was responsible for implementing new procedures to improve order processing within a team of(number of people and name of department).
  • Actions: I analysed the existing process and adopted a strategy to modify it in order to implement best practice. I organised meetings and trained the team in the new procedures.
  • Results : Thanks to the new procedures I’ve put in place and applied within the company, we’ve reduced our order backlog by (figures) , which has led to a marked improvement in customer satisfaction and increased team productivity.

A job interview is never a pleasant experience, but with the STAR method, candidates will feel more at ease when answering questions to highlight their qualities and skills. As for recruiters or human resources, it is ideal for determining which candidate is best qualified for the job.

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