Tips for Answering Questions at Executive Interviews – Using the STAR Method

At we always get asked about effective ways for answering questions at executive interviews. The most successful interviews rely on effective preparation, having a clear strategy and answering questions in an assured way. With some foresight, this should all come together ‘on-the-day’ to deliver a confident performance and make a good impression.

For executive interviews, expect different types of questions by asking about challenging thought provoking scenarios through to more standard (core) questions that can be anticipated (‘quick wins’). However, when answering questions it is useful to consider a methodology to help shape answers, give clear examples and bring what candidates have done to life. Answering questions in a structured way often makes candidates more convincing, assured and professional in the way they come across. So, what is a good simple approach to use?

The STAR Method

The STAR Method is a commonly accepted approach to answering questions at interview. The idea is to choose examples or scenarios where candidates have made a difference, used essential skills, gained recognition or delivered clear outcomes to give evidence of suitability or achievement.

  • Situation: Briefly outlining scenario by describing and explaining situation
  • Task: Clarifying what the candidate did and role played if within a team
  • Action: Focusing on key actions, decisions made and main skills deployed
  • Result: Demonstrating clear outcomes, excellent results or improvements made

Challenging Executive Interviews

A more sophisticated approach is used for executive interview scenarios to really test candidate capabilities, evaluate decision-making rationale and gain deeper insights. This means there are other things to consider to complement the STAR method.

  • Context: Candidates need to give important context when describing scenarios
  • Relevance: Check examples for relevance to the job and organisation in question
  • Examples: Carefully choose examples likely to stand up to questioning and scrutiny
  • Clear Actions: Ensure examples include clear actions and decisions-making rationale
  • Excellent Achievements: Give credible outcomes and clear evidence of achievement
  • Learning Points: Be clear about learning points, decision-making rationale and mistakes

Structuring Interview Answers: Conclusion

The STAR method is a commonly used approach for answering questions at interviews. It is a good start and is often sufficient for more mainstream interviews. However, expectations are higher for executive interviews, so there are other elements to be considered when structuring answers at executive interviews. This gives a more sophisticated approach and helps executives cover different interview scenarios, whilst answering questions more effectively. External article – Seeing executive interviews from the interviewer’s perspective¬†with some useful tips on improving interview performance by avoiding mistakes.

Leave a Reply