This article is for those of you who know the STAR method but find it confusing because the “S” and the “T” steps seem so similar.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about you can skip this and keep using STAR to answer your behavioral interview questions.
Why I don’t like the STAR method
So, the “situation” and “task” steps in STAR, they seem kind of similar, right? Yeah, they do. I’ve never been able to figure out the difference between them and I’ve had many clients ask me to explain the difference to them, which I can’t do because it doesn’t make any sense to me.
What I recommend instead of STAR
To save everyone (including myself) from confusion, I’ve started teaching my clients to use “PAR” instead. PAR is the same as STAR but combines the S and the T steps.
Why “P” instead of “S”? S and P mean the same – situation, problem, issue – it doesn’t really matter what you call it, it’s the same thing.
You may have heard the term “PAR” used when talking about resumes, and it's a common way of formatting resume bullet points, but we can also use it for answering behavioral questions and it is so much clearer than STAR.
Here is the PAR format:
P = problem/situation/issue
A = action (what did you do?)
R = result
Now use the letters as a structure to tell your story (you need to use a story to answer your behavioral interview question).
Will I have a problem if I don’t use STAR?
Will your interviewer notice that you’re not using STAR? No. I promise you they will have no idea. A good S section will always explain the T as well, meaning it will explain what the issue is you’re working on and what you yourself specifically are doing, so no one will even know you’ve combined S and T.
Amazon recruiters send out interview instructions telling candidates to use STAR, but like I said, no one will notice if you use PAR instead. They will notice if your answer is unclear or lacking the proper information.
If you're one of the people who finds STAR confusing and annoying like I do, start using PAR instead.
How to structure your answers to basic interview questions
I’m happy to say that my clients, who range from senior VP level to entry level, have done well in their interviews and gotten the job they wanted at Amazon. If you’d like to work together on your interview prep, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation or an interview prep session.
Interview Genie is an interview prep company. I specialize in coaching non-native English speakers but I also work with native speakers.