STAR Questions 


As mentioned in an earlier chapter, STAR and SPAR are the market’s Gold Standard when answering a competence or describe a time questions. STAR or SPAR stand for:

•    Situation
•    Task or Problem
•    Action
•    Result

Let’s break this down and see how this model works and more importantly, how to use it. 

Like telling a story, we need to have a little context to understand the story. This beginning or introduction is called the Situation. Describe the time and position you had, a little of what you were doing or the company was doing at this time so that the listener is oriented and informed.


For example, let’s use the question “Describe a time you handled a complex task”


We could say "3 years ago while I was working as a XXXX manager for ABC company, we were going through a business merger between ABC and XYZ company” This sentence clearly explains the when, what and who in this story.

Next is the Task or Problem, make sure you explain the pain points and complexities in the task, why you were required to do them, who was involved in the project, etc For example: “XYZ company were using an outdated and obsolete software system in managing their client’s accounts which was not compatible with ABC’s database. Because of this, it was incredibly difficult for both companies to share information freely and slowed a lot of internal processes. I needed to find a solution which would improve the speed of data sharing yet at the same time be as undisruptive as possible for either business.”

Third, in the acronym is Action, this explains the how and why you did what you did. Be specific, instead of just saying I found a solution, explain what the solution was, how did you come up with it, was it a first, second or third attempt and solving your problem. All these details matter greatly, they showcase your skills and abilities and demonstrate how you will tackle problems and challenges in your new company and role. Continuing with our story we would say something like:


“To find a solution quickly, I reached out to a software consultant representing the CRM and Sales software ABC company were using. It was apparent to me that XYZ company’s software was obsolete and would eventually be replaced, therefore I knew that we needed to find a solution to develop a functionality which would allow XYZ’s information with ABC and vice versa. The consultant proposed a 2-month side by side solution to call and read data using a third-party program” 

Finally, we have Result. Did it go well? What were the achievements, looking back was there something to learn that you would apply in a future project you undertake and why? Negative results are not always bad, the most crucial thing here is that you have learnt something which you can take away and add value to an upcoming project. Never be shy from raising problems or issues you’ve had as this is a normal thing for every person, team and project. It shows you have the ability to self-critique, develop and improve.


Below is list of commonly asked STAR and Behavioural Questions: