Coming up with concise and articulate ways to respond to questions during an interview can be hard. You don’t want to ramble on by providing too much information or sound boastful about your previous accomplishments. But you also don’t want to have so short of responses employers feel like they are dragging information out of you, either.
Building out interview responses using the CAR and STAR techniques can be a great way to strike a happy medium in response length while also making sure your answers are professional, detailed, articulate and to the point.
What is the CAR/STAR Method?
The CAR Method
CAR stands for Cause, Action, Result.
The CAR method is a technique that helps candidates organize their interview responses in a linear fashion by providing a cause and effect format to their responses using real-life examples.
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The STAR Method
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
Like the CAR technique, the STAR method allows interviewees to provide responses to situational circumstances from their past. The STAR method is great for highlighting actions a candidate took during a previous life or work experience and demonstrating to prospective employers how those actions resulted in measurable, positive change.
CAR and STAR Interview Question Examples
Here are a few examples of behavioral questions you might be asked during an interview, and how the CAR and STAR methods can help you structure your responses:
- Share an example of a time you faced a difficult problem at work.
Think of an example where you solved a problem, and the outcome was positive.
- Describe a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work.
Think of an example of when you handled pressure well.
- Tell me about a mistake you’ve made.
Think of an example where you learned from an experience and how you implemented changes
- Share an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.
Think of an example where a tough decision resulted in a positive outcome, and why you made the decision you made.
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss or someone in a leadership role.
Think of a time you were able to be productive despite a difference of opinions, and what you did to understand the perspective that resulted in a positive outcome.
- Tell me about a time you worked with a person (or people) in another department to complete a project.
Use a positive experience where you worked in a team/new environment, and how your contributions assisted in achieving the desired result.
Interviewers are not asking behavioral questions to try to stump you or get you to say something negative about yourself. The point of these types of questions is to determine how well you handle different personalities, types of pressure, and, ultimately, how well you can learn from previous situations, and apply that knowledge to the present.
In other words, employers just want to see if you can grow with their team!
If you are able to bring a few CAR and STAR responses with you to your next interview, you will be sure to leave a lasting impression with your interviewer.