Ace Your Job Interview with the STAR Method

February 13, 2023

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If you want to answer behavioral interview questions in a clear and structured manner, the STAR method is the way to go. This method is highly recommended, even by Amazon, as it helps organize your past experiences so that the interviewer can assess your potential.

I personally recommend the STAR method after successfully using it in my own interview with Amazon's Leadership Principles questions. In this article, I'll explain what the STAR method is and how to use it in an interview. I'll also discuss the Story Shape method, which I believe can enhance the STAR method, to help you ace your next job interview.

What is the STAR Method?

The STAR method is an acronym for the four elements of situation, task, action, and result. It's a way to answer behavioral interview questions in a clear and concise manner, providing specific examples of your past experiences.

Here's an example of how to use the STAR method to answer the question, "Has your work progress been affected by other colleagues' poor performance in the past, how did you deal with it at that time?"


Describe the specific situation and context, providing enough detail for the interviewer to understand. For example: "In my previous job, I was working with a new colleague who was taking longer to start working than others. The output speed was slow, the code often required multiple rounds of code review, and there were even occasional bugs. This was taking up a significant amount of my time and affecting my work progress."


Explain what problem you were trying to solve and what goal you were trying to achieve. For example: "I talked to my manager about the situation, and they agreed that the issue needed to be addressed. I volunteered to allocate some time to assist the colleague, with the goal of helping them speed up their development. The goal was to increase the completion rate of assigned tasks from 80% to at least 90% and reduce the number of rounds of code review."


Describe what you specifically did to solve the problem and achieve the goal. Emphasize your personal contribution by starting with "I". For example: "I scheduled a 1:1 with the colleague to understand the situation. I found out that the problem wasn't due to a lack of intelligence but rather a lack of onboarding and related documents. I made sure to answer any questions the colleague had and worked on filling any knowledge gaps. I also created new documents to assist with the onboarding process."


Talk about the results of your actions, including positive outcomes such as cost savings, reduced time, improved volume, and improved quality. Discuss what you learned from the experience. For example: "Through one-on-one assistance, the colleague's production improved significantly. They were completing almost all assigned tasks in subsequent sprints, and the code quality improved as well. This experience also helped our team focus more on improving the onboarding process for new colleagues, leading to significant improvement in the entry process for new team members."

Enhancing the STAR Method with the Story Shape Approach

In addition to the STAR method, Amazon Principal Engineer Steve Huynh discusses the Story Shape approach in the following video. I highly recommend watching the entire video, as it's very helpful for job interviews.

I believe that the STAR method can be further improved with the Story Shape approach. When describing situations and tasks, you can use the Story Shape approach to make the story more engaging and memorable.

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