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Highlight Your Best Qualities with the STAR Format

The use of “behavioral interviews” has reached trending levels. This new way of conducting interviews provides key, evidence-based insights into what you, the potential employee, can bring to a company.

The hallmark feature of this technique is the open-ended questions that will probe into your past work experiences. This approach leaves hiring managers and HR directors with solid evidence by which to make hiring decisions, by seeking specific evidence of skills and accomplishments via inquiries such as—

  • Tell me about a time when . . .
  • Describe a situation . . .
  • Can you give me an example of . . .
  • Have you ever . . .

How should candidates respond to the behavioral interview approach?

The candidate expecting yes/no questions will stumble through a behavioral interview, and that’s really too bad. However, this interview model not only provides a greater depth of information for the hiring manager but also provides an exceptional opportunity for the candidate to shine. The well-prepared candidate that is –because acing this type of interview is all about the preparation.

Cue the STAR method—a candidate’s best friend when it comes to successfully navigating a behavioral interview. The acronym STAR stands for:

S = Situation – choose a specific situation/project/dilemma from your personal experiences and detail the scenario, including the challenges and barriers.

T = Task – explain your duties/responsibilities and the intended goal.

A = Action – note what specific action you took to achieve the goal, emphasizing specific.

R = Result – elaborate on the results, how they impacted the company, and what you gleaned from the experience.

How does the STAR format benefit a candidate?

An interviewer asks the candidate to describe a time when his/her organizational skills have been utilized. The candidate can respond with something generic, such as, “I used my organizational skills every day, all day.” Which tells the interviewer nothing, nor does it enhance his/her view of the candidate.

The type of answer that will properly and more accurately highlight the candidate’s skill level will utilize each of the elements of the STAR approach. Consider this example.


“The COVID-19 pandemic sent our workforce to many remote locations, which compromised efforts to keep everyone in the loop concerning day-to-day operations. As a result, what was thought to be a short-term situation morphed into an ongoing, long-term situation that demanded we all get on and stay on the same page.”


“I was tasked with devising a long-term communication plan that would keep the team up-to-date on crucial information.”


“I gathered contact information into a concise, mobile-friendly resource that included multiple ways to reach key team members. In addition, I polled team members to determine the best time to hold daily and weekly video calls, depending on the department’s unique needs, as many employees found themselves balancing work-from-home with caring for and homeschooling children.”


“While some concerns and challenges were noted initially, a few adjustments helped to achieve the goal of each department promptly receiving the pertinent information. I continued to monitor for communication challenges and made necessary changes to keep operations running as smoothly as possible, which allowed us to meet each deadline on time.”

By preparing specific, detailed answers to open-ended questions about your accomplishments, skillset, and personal attributes, you will be ready to shine a light on the positive qualities you would bring to this position.

Helping our candidates shine is a priority at A.R. Mazzotta. Because we care about finding the right job for you, our team will offer personal support throughout your job search. So take a step toward successful employment by contacting our team of staffing specialists today.