STAR Stories

STAR stories are good ways to concentrate your valuable experiences and skills into something powerful for interviews.

Important elements of a good STAR story are that it is short (shorter than you think it should be!) and is easy to understand. As a challenge, try and reduce your stories down to one sentence per section; then if you expand in an interview (you will), it will be just right.

We also want the impact of our difference to be easily understood, so using things like productivity/production metrics (percentages, "x times" growth) or monetary metrics are key to driving the point home about why what you did matters. In general, people love numbers because they are hard-edged and unambiguous, so aim for that. If no numbers are available, make it as tangible a result as possible!

All this being said, be a human. Add life to your stories, make them interesting. Still be you and be proud of who you are and what makes you you.

Common Attributes

Attributes that underlie most soft-skills questions are:

  1. Passion
  2. Communication
  3. Balancing Self-Motivation and Loyalty (looking for a good balance)
  4. Confidence and Accurate Self-Analysis
  5. Problem-Solving Attributes
  6. Leadership
  7. Organization

Having a couple of STAR stories that apply for each of these will allow you to kind of bend them to fit most questions.

Common Questions

These are used in response to common questions, so having STAR stories that can cover those common interview questions is crucial:

Example from CMU[2]

Describe a time you had to use your leadership skills unexpectedly.


During my first year with the company, I was given the project manager role for a critical client account after the long-term project manager suddenly became ill.


My first priority was to win the confidence of both my team and the client by creating a roadmap that we could all follow to the successful completion of the project. Once agreed, I needed to make sure that everyone followed the specified steps required to meet the client’s objectives.


I began by calling a team meeting to develop a list of project deliverables along with a time and responsibility schedule. I identified, reviewed and assigned each task to a responsible team member to ensure accountability. These steps gained broad team buy-in and ensured that we had the right people and resources needed/allocated to meet each milestone.

Next, I reviewed my proposed plan of action with my manager. Following his approval, I met with the client to make sure that were addressing all of his concerns. I returned to my team where we made some final adjustments based on client feedback. All of this took place within one week of my taking the lead on the project.

We quickly launched the execution of the project and moved forward. Throughout the 3 month execution phase, I held weakly meetings with team members to keep everyone focused and motivated and to further adjust resources if needed. These meetings were complemented by bi-weekly client meetings to assure his ongoing satisfaction. In the end, the project was delivered on time and the client was completely satisfied.


So, because of my leadership skills, I was able to step into a challenging situation and lead my team to a final result that met the high standards of both my company and our key client.


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