STAR Interview Method

The STAR method is best used for behavioral questions. These questions are fraught with peril as most candidates go off on tangents and ramble. The structure the Teldar Group recommends is the STAR Method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, & Result. The best way to describe this method is through an example, which is provided below.

Interview Question

“Tell me about a time when you had a customer that was an obstacle on a sourcing project and how did you handle it.”

Interview Answer

  • Situation – At ABC Corporation, I was responsible for sourcing marketing spend. ABC had a decentralized procurement organization and we had to influence the stakeholders to get engaged in sourcing the spend. I was the team lead and had an analyst supporting me.
  • Task - We identified a huge opportunity in our advertising spend. We spent $100 million in this area and it had never been strategically sourced. However, marketing owned this spend and viewed advertising as a sacred cow. Despite the fact that I had convinced senior management of the savings potential in this area, the Director of marketing was blocking our efforts by refusing to provide us spend information or even give us any time.
  • Action – By working with the CPO, I was able to get a joint meeting with the VP & Director of Marketing. His biggest concern was that we were going to pick the lowest bidder and he wouldn’t have a say in the process. We convinced him that he would pick the supplier list to bid and would have the ultimate say in which agency to use. We were there to support his needs and at the end of the day, he was our customer. After that meeting, he became much more cooperative but still a little hesitant.
  • Result – We ended up saving over $25 million from the incumbent supplier. After the process, the Director felt his current supplier was ripping off the company and he is now one of our biggest supporters. As a matter of fact, he has asked us to look at three different spend areas in marketing to conduct strategic sourcing projects.

This provides a good example of how to use the STAR method. However, there are several other types of questions that are asked in the interview process that you can employ this method to. For example, an interviewer might ask “what are your biggest strengths?” When a candidate answers, they might say “I have great leadership skills.” Great! Did they prove it? It is one thing to say you are great at something. It is even stronger when you can provide an example that puts into context you demonstrating that trait. In addition, when you answer these questions it is important to include pertinent pieces of information on the project. They include: “what was the spend?” “What was your specific role on the project?” “Who were the key stakeholders i.e. VP of Manufacturing?”

Visit our Interview Preparation Guide to read more tips on preparing for your next interview.


Jeff Flannery
About the Author:

Mr. Flannery has many years of executive search, supply chain consulting experience, supply chain strategy, and process improvement. He has managed consulting projects for several Fortune 500 clients on three continents, including: Raytheon, IBM, Union Bank of California, H.J. Heinz, ConAgra, Eaton, Nestle, and Lucent Technologies. Mr. Flannery holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters of Business Administration in Strategy from Indiana University.

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