Proven Formula to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions (and 3 tips to make your answers excellent!)

behavioral interview questions job interview question job interview questions and answers job interview tips star method Feb 08, 2022


Behavioral interview questions- those “Tell me about a time when” questions can send you into a panic, especially if you haven’t practiced. Or you can ramble for 20 min. No lie. I once answered for 20 minutes. It wasn’t good. 

These questions are hard because we have to give a scenario, yet still be mindful of time. 

How do you do that? Today I’ll share with you the proven formula to answer behavioral interview questions and the key things to remember to make each answer stellar.

Okay so you’re asked a “Tell Me about a time when” question-
“Tell me about a time you handled a conflict at work”

“Tell me about a time you collaborated cross-functionally to achieve a common goal” 

“Tell me a time you took on a leadership role”

And on, and on. 

To keep you on track you want to use the STAR method. 

STAR stands for 

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

This is how you want to outline your answers- give the situation and the task. This provides context. Remember, the interviewer wasn’t there! They need you to set the scene so they can picture the experience you are going to share. 

I’m putting these two together because sometimes the situation and the task blend a bit. 

Then the action- what did you do? How did you approach the conflict, lead the team, etc. 

And then the result. Y’all, I am PASSIONATE about the result. So many people end their answer on what they did and that’s that. Nope. 

What happened!?! Did the team like your leadership? Were you promoted because of the experience? And if it’s something like conflict, I don’t care how you felt after, I want to know how the other person responded! What was the relationship like after the conflict was handled? 

So many skip the result and I’m telling you, the MONEY IS IN THE RESULT!

Here are some keys to creating an excellent STAR method answer

  1. Most important, be specific. I’m trying to picture the scenario so when you give really generic situations, don’t share who was involved, etc. I can’t get a strong grasp of what you did.
    Now, I don’t need to know it was a Tuesday and it was snowing outside, but what was your role? Who was on the team? Specificity like that will help you give a stronger answer. 
  2. You can use the same scenario for multiple answers! Do not think you have to figure out different examples for every single question. Sometimes the time we handled conflict was also a part of a time we handled multiple projects at once, or took on a leadership role. Using the same scenario can be helpful because you can save time in your answer if you’ve already laid out the situation in a previous answer. Now you just build upon it.
  3. You can use examples from your resume! Y’all, they did not memorize your resume. Do not think you have to give something they haven’t seen yet. Talk about an experience listed on your resume. Even if they did notice it already, your story will confirm for them the connection they are already making in their head about how your past experience relates to this position.