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How to Leverage the STAR Method for Interview Questions

The STAR method is widely used to help formulate answers to interview questions. The acronym stands for: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Formulating answers within this method will help you a lot when you are presented with situational interview questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time when…

  • What do you do when…

  • Have you ever…

  • Give me an example of…

  • Describe a time when…

Let’s break down the STAR method as it relates to the IT Project Management Interview:

Situation: Describe the situation within the context of a Project you worked on.

Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation

Action: Talk about the steps you took to address this issue

Result: What was the outcome of this situation?

Think about major wins you had in your previous work experience and frame this leveraging the STAR method. Let’s review an example below:

The Interviewer Asks: “Tell me about a time when you faced changes to your project that necessitated you to initiate the change control process.”

You can structure your answer such as:

Situation: “In my last PM role, I was working on the Software Integration project when the business approved additional requirements that were critical to be implemented during the current year.”

Task: “My responsibility was to work with the business and tech teams to fully understand the new requirements and what impact this would have on schedule and cost.”

Action: “I began by immediately putting the project into YELLOW status as I needed to confirm with the business the timeline impact of implementing the new requirements. Also, I had to work with the technical teams to ensure the requirements were feasible and what additional cost would be necessary.

Once we all were in agreement as to the additional scope and cost, I presented these findings to the change control board with the business team’s support. Once the change control was formally approved, I put the project back into GREEN status as the new cost and scope was integrated into the PMO program.”

Result: “As a result of these actions, the project was ultimately completed 6 weeks beyond the original schedule with an additional cost of $50,000. However, the firm stood to realize about $15 million of benefit through 2025.”

Now its your turn. Think about situations in your past where you faced challenges on your projects and frame your responses leveraging the STAR method. Repeat this process for each situation. Best of luck in your next Project Management interview!

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