20 STAR interview questions and answers for hiring expert talent

20 STAR interview questions and answers for hiring expert talent

The STAR method is a popular interview technique that allows candidates to answer questions in greater detail. It requires them to share work experiences by structuring responses into four parts: the situation, task, action, and results achieved. 

Answers containing these four components have a stronger narrative that helps you better understand the candidate’s level of expertise. 

Many recruiters incorporate the STAR method into behavioral questions, to prompt candidates to provide an example and detailed reason in their answers. And before you conduct these interviews, you can send candidates a Critical Thinking test to evaluate their thought processes in more depth. 

But if you’re at the stage where you need to prepare for candidate interviews, keep reading this guide to discover 20 STAR method interview questions and answers. We have provided sample answers that follow the STAR format for each question.

1. Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge. How did you solve it?

This question deliberately sets up an answer that follows the STAR method. Candidates should think of challenges they faced in previous jobs and what they did to overcome them. When responding, candidates should focus on tasks and actions that demonstrate their best skills. 

Situation: A challenge could involve tight deadlines on a team project. 

Task: Focusing on time management and organization ensures your candidates prioritize the right deadlines for the company. 

Action: Listed top-priority deadlines and focus on completing those before doing smaller tasks that require less time.

Result: The team completed all projects without missing a day. This result made the client extremely satisfied. 

2. How do you usually resolve conflict at work?

Your applicant should emphasize their problem-solving and communication skills when answering this question. They can explain the conflict and provide examples that illustrate how they resolved it with other team members. 

Consider sending candidates a Problem-Solving test before the interview. This assessment enables you to evaluate their responses to complex situations in the workplace. 

Situation: A team member disagreed with an idea for the project and started expressing negative emotions. 

Task: Talk to the team member and negotiate potential ideas that suit everyone. 

Action: Arranged a 10-minute meeting to discuss the conflict. The team member listened and shared their thoughts on the project. Both parties made a plan that turned all ideas into one final proposition. 

Result: The team felt more comfortable now that the conflict was over, meaning everyone could get started on the project. 

3. Talk me through the process of meeting a tight deadline. 

Candidates will have unique responses depending on their thought processes and work style. Starting the question with “talk me through” ensures the candidate states each step clearly in their answer. When providing an answer, they should describe how they dealt with a pressing deadline in a previous job.

Using the Time Management test to evaluate your candidates’ organizational skills and ability to execute tasks efficiently is worthwhile if you require extra data for candidate assessment. 

Situation: A long-term client suddenly brings a project deadline forward. 

Task: To meet the tight deadline, team members must split duties evenly and prioritize the project above other tasks. 

Action: Each team member used company resources and group meetings to speed up project development and meet the new deadline. 

Result: The company delivered a high-quality project to the client without delays.

4. How do you deal with team members who aren’t contributing to a project?

In response to this question, interviewees should be honest about their thoughts and attitudes toward other team members who aren’t putting in the effort. They might focus on how communication skills helped them express their opinions without being negative. 

Send them a Communication Skills test before the interview for more insight into the candidate’s abilities. With data-driven results, you can assess their written and verbal communication. 

Situation: One team member on the marketing team isn’t doing much research for the project. 

Task: Arrange a meeting with the team member to discuss their tasks and ask if they need support. 

Action: Talked to the team member about their lack of contribution and whether they require guidance from a manager. They also had an opportunity to express any concerns regarding the project. 

Result: Once the team completed more tasks to the highest standard, all team members were more motivated and productive.

5. How do you overcome sudden changes in the workplace?

A candidate who can adapt to change is more likely to succeed during company or industry developments. For example, transitioning to another software program can be challenging for some, but adaptable workers quickly learn how to use the new technology. Research also suggests that recruiters are 24% more likely to employ candidates with adaptability skills.

Candidates with adaptability skills are more likely to be employed

Ask this question to determine whether candidates can adapt to new processes in a work environment.

Situation: The company implemented a new payroll system that HR professionals had to learn quickly. 

Task: Watch training videos on the new system and attend meetings to learn about payroll technology. 

Action: Employees used practical examples and conversed with technical professionals on how to use basic features. They also attended instructor-led classes to test more advanced components of the software. 

Result: Team members in HR could efficiently administer payroll through the new software program. 

6. Tell me about a time your team wasn’t listening to your ideas. 

Candidates who feel confident voicing their ideas will contribute more to a project. They may want to share their creativity with others and bring something new to the table. Even if some candidates don’t have experience dealing with distant team members, they can still provide an example of what they would do in that situation. 

Send your candidates a Verbal Reasoning test to determine how they express their ideas to other team members. This assessment is suitable for candidates with strong communication skills. 

Situation: Team members weren’t taking ideas on board when negotiating concepts during project planning. 

Task: Arrange a meeting with the team members to ensure everyone gets heard. 

Action: Explained the reasoning behind specific ideas and created a plan that allowed all team members to contribute. 

Result: Every team member voiced their opinion, which produced better results in the final project. 

7. What is your process for fixing mistakes at work?

To be able to improve, need to learn how to fix mistakes in every job. They should have a clear and consistent thought process that helps them to resolve human errors and prevent them from reoccurring. 

The best responses will provide clear examples and explain successful outcomes from the action.

Situation: A written project included the wrong spelling of a brand.

Task: Go through the project and resolve these mistakes. Once the brand name is correct, let another team member check it. 

Action: Corrected the mistakes in the written project and enhanced the article quality to ensure the client was satisfied. The company also provided more grammar-related software programs to prevent this mistake from reoccurring. 

Result: The client was happy with the outcome, and the company didn’t experience similar mistakes again. 

8. What is your process for fixing mistakes at work?

By creating strategic plans, individuals are more likely to achieve their goals. With a plan prepared, candidates have a clear idea of how to accomplish the company’s objectives. 

You could send each candidate a 16 Types Personality test to understand their personal work style and how they create strategies to achieve goals. 

Situation: One short-term goal is to meet 60,000 words a month for a project. 

Task: Focus on setting small daily goals and practice time management to boost the word count. 

Action: Completed 3,000 words a day while taking regular breaks. This approach eliminated bad habits like zoning out and procrastinating during work hours. 

Result: Completed 60,000 words in the month and finished the project a few days before the deadline. 

9. How do you use communication skills to lead a group presentation?

Candidates need strong communication skills to succeed in a team-based role. They should know about several communication types regarding efficient collaboration in the workplace. Their answer will be unique depending on how they lead presentations and interact with the entire team. 

Studies prove that nearly half of employees feel less productive due to ineffective communication. Therefore, candidates with good workplace communication skills are a big advantage.

Situation: The presentation is about new project ideas. Every team member needs to express their thoughts to the managerial department. 

Task: Arrange meetings with the team members beforehand to determine who leads the presentation and how they want to communicate ideas. 

Action: Took the lead on the main content to ensure the presentation was cohesive and coherent. Other team members maintained the same tone of voice throughout the project pitch. 

Result: In response to the presentation, the manager accepted the team’s new ideas.

10. Describe a time when you had to make quick changes to a project. How did you manage it?

Candidates should expect sudden changes in a job. Industries are constantly changing and many organizations introduce new technology in line with the latest trends. If they already have experience with similar developments, it’s worth questioning applicants further. 

You could ask how they adapted to sudden changes and what skills they used to complete the project efficiently. 

Situation: A client requested a word-count increase for their latest project. 

Task: Figure out how many words to write each day to meet the word count. Talk with other team members about their ideas. 

Action: Prioritized the project above anything else and dedicated a few hours daily to increasing the word count. The entire team contributed some words to ensure the project met the highest standard. 

Result: The client was pleased with the new content and extended their contract with the company. 

11. How do you set long-term career goals?

Personal development goals enable candidates to improve their workplace and interpersonal skills. With their goals established, individuals can think about what they wish to achieve and how they will reach specific objectives. 

In response to this question, some candidates might talk you through their process of setting career objectives, while others may provide examples of common or regular goals they like to set. 

Situation: One goal is to gain leadership experience for future jobs. 

Task: Find volunteer work in local communities or organize mentoring sessions with current team members to test leadership skills. 

Action: Volunteered in community development to help guide new principles. Everyone listened to a range of intriguing ideas that could improve local neighborhoods.

Result: Gained leadership experience and felt more comfortable seeking leader-based positions in the company.

12. Have you ever had to develop new skills in a job?

Self-improvement means the candidate is eager to constantly learn new skills and gain relevant experience. Since developing new skills makes projects easier, gauge whether candidates have considered how they can improve.

Whether they take training courses or request advice from senior team members, there are many methods your interviewee may discuss. Candidates’ answers should provide real examples of how they learn new skills to support efficient task completion. 

If you’re doing skills-based hiring, this is an important question. You can search for specific competencies among candidates. 

Situation: New software programs in the company require team members to have strong technical skills. 

Task: Join on-the-job training or take online courses to gain technical knowledge. 

Action: Completed training sessions with the manager and read online materials on how to use the latest software. 

Result: All team members can efficiently use the software with their new technical skills. 

13. Tell me how you would resolve a disagreement with your boss.

Disagreements are bound to happen at work, but candidates should always know how to resolve them without causing unnecessary conflict. Their answers should include a realistic scenario and a step-by-step solution showing how they overcame conflict professionally. 

New research has revealed that over 36% of employees and managers have to deal with conflict often, so it’s important to hire a candidate who takes an active approach to preventing and resolving these disagreements.

Send candidates a Negotiation test to see how they resolve disagreements. This skill is vital for settling differences in the workplace. 

Situation: The manager disagreed on how to help a customer with their product. 

Task: Arrange a meeting with the manager in private to discuss alternative options and put forward new ideas. 

Action: In a private meeting, the manager agreed with alternative solutions for supporting customers. They maintained honest communication while negotiating other potential solutions. 

Result: Both the customer and manager were satisfied. There was no conflict or further disagreement on the subject. 

14. Describe a time you failed to meet your goals. How did you handle it?

When responding to this question, candidates should be honest about what goals they have failed to achieve and how they learned from failure to maintain self-improvement. Evaluating their thought processes and determination to continuously strive for more is important because it helps you determine whether they will be productive team members. 

Situation: The team failed to reach the monthly word count for specific projects. 

Task: Each team member writes the goal down again for the next month and finds ways to manage their time better. 

Action: Prioritized projects with higher word counts and set more daily goals to ensure everyone produced work efficiently. 

Result: Every team member contributed to a higher overall word count the next month. The learning process helped employees increase their productivity levels. 

15. How would you manage multiple priorities when other team members can’t?

Workers who can take on more tasks in a role may often show leadership traits. They are confident and ready to complete necessary duties for individual projects. The ideal candidate will talk you through their process and explain how they would handle a heavy workload.

Use a Leadership and People Management test to locate potential leaders. You can determine whether candidates can complete more tasks in the vacancy. 

Situation: Two team members who have fast-approaching deadlines are off sick. 

Task: Get familiar with their projects and study what they’ve done so far to ensure no team members make unnecessary mistakes before the deadline. 

Action: Completed the two team members’ projects in time for the deadline by limiting outside distractions and prioritizing them above anything else. 

Result: Team members delivered two high-quality projects on time. The client was happy with the outcome and praised the company for their hard work. 

16. How do you handle pressure during a large project?

Dealing with and preventing stress is essential in a job, and resilient team members will retain composure under pressure. Candidates may have multiple methods to handle the pressure of significant projects. 

For example, they might complete tasks in their own time by sitting in a quiet room and excluding distractions from team members. Their answer should give a detailed example of how they approach pressure in the workplace. 

Situation: Demanding performance expectations that make team members feel pressured. 

Task: Arrange a meeting with the manager to discuss employee performance. Use this time to ask questions about how to improve current work processes. 

Action: Communicated concerns with the manager about how the performance expectations were too high. This professional meeting helped the manager to lower workplace pressure and provide more internal support. 

Result: All team members had better mental health and could perform their duties without stress. 

17. Tell me about a time when you had to share bad news with team members.

This question focuses on communication and empathy. Candidates who can communicate bad news and reassure other team members may encourage them to achieve their goals despite setbacks. When reviewing responses, consider if your candidates know how to communicate negative news clearly and compassionately. 

Situation: A long-term client ended the contract after a failed project. 

Task: Schedule a private meeting with team members to break the news and explain more about the situation. 

Action: Completed a successful meeting with the team. They understood why the client left and discussed ideas for improving future projects. Everyone felt disappointed, but they were determined to carry on. 

Result: All team members felt more confident to improve. 

18. How would you collaborate with other departments?

Effective collaboration ensures all departments can contribute to a project. Candidates must understand how to interact with different teams and use consistent communication. Over 35% of employees report a lack of teamwork in the workplace, but you have an opportunity to change that by hiring collaborative candidates.

What is the percentage of employees experiencing a lack of teamwork at work

You could send candidates a personality test like Big 5 to determine their openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability. This test indicates how each candidate would approach new situations and people. 

Situation: A product launch requires all departments to participate and work together. 

Task: Become acquainted with the other departments and create a plan that enables all teams to utilize their strengths during product development. 

Action: Collaborated with several other departments to make a final product. Everyone was friendly and knew what to do through big team meetings and group presentations. 

Result: Every department feels comfortable working on projects together and conversing with new people. This result also improves overall company culture, which boosts employee morale. 

19. How do you motivate others on the team?

Supporting others on the team can raise productivity levels, increase morale, and boost client satisfaction as teams complete projects efficiently. The ideal candidate should have the motivation to guide others and become a mentor. Even if they lack some experience, they can still discuss the steps they would take to reinforce positivity. 

Check out the Motivation test for screening your candidates on this quality. Candidates will answer questions about their personality and job expectations. 

Situation: Some team members are feeling low because of a challenging project. 

Task: Arrange a social event to boost their happiness and encourage them to be more productive when overcoming challenges. 

Action: The entire team was able to de-stress after the social event and discuss any problems. Certain team members also requested additional support to ensure they met deadlines. 

Result: Employee morale was high and the team picked up their pace to complete the complex project. 

20. Talk me through the steps needed to start a project.

This final question allows candidates to explore more of their thought processes. You can take a deeper look into their cognitive ability and evaluate their ability to think fast in the workplace. Candidates should take the time to think about their responses, especially if they plan on going through each step in more detail. 

Situation: The entire team has to start and finish a significant project in one week. 

Task: Schedule team meetings, make a to-do list, prioritize important tasks, and converse with the client about guidelines. 

Action: All team members completed their studies for the project by holding regular meetings and communicating problems in advance. A to-do list also stopped smaller tasks from getting lost. 

Result: The team delivered a high-quality project that didn’t require an extension. 

At which stage of the hiring process should you use STAR interview questions?

You should use STAR method interview questions after sending candidates applicable skill assessments. This approach means that instead of searching through a pile of resumes, you can use our data-driven tests to identify top talent, avoid mis-hiring, and remove unsuitable candidates who don’t have relevant experience. 

For example, hiring a sales assistant means you can use a Customer Service test. Just send it to several candidates to evaluate their communication and problem-solving skills. Each role may require a different skill assessment comprised of different tests. 

If you’re hiring a software engineer, for instance, you may require a QA Skills assessment that contains general knowledge and execution methods. 

Once you have narrowed down your list of candidates, you can use these STAR interview questions and answers to hire suitable talent. 

Hire top talent using STAR method interview questions and skills assessments 

hire top talent using start method

Before interviewing your candidates, make sure you search for suitable skill tests in TestGorilla’s extensive test library. You can search for personality, language, situational judgment, programming, software, and cognitive ability tests that will help you eliminate unsuitable job applicants. 

Once you have studied the results and chosen a group of candidates, prepare for the interviews using these STAR method interview questions and answers. The ideal candidate will spark an engaging conversation that makes them stand out.

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