Using Amazon STAR method to crack your Amazon interview ( with techniques and examples )
The first interaction you have with a potential employer is exactly the interview. 80% of the interview comprises behavioral questions. Behavioral questions in the interview aim to get an overview of your future actions using examples from your past.
Your behavior in certain situations in the previous job can be a sure indicator of what your actions will be in the future. That is the reason for the origin of the STAR phenomenon, and it’s the key to cracking the Amazon behavioral interview.
The interviews are tools that help the employers in the candidate’s vetting process. Employees use interviews to shortlist candidates that would be perfect for an advertised role. Therefore, your continued progress and ultimate success in the hiring process hinges on nailing that interview. Let’s nail the Amazon interview using the STAR method.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to use the STAR method to crack your Amazon interview.
Here’s what we’ve covered:
- What is the STAR method?
- How does the STAR method work?
- How to use the STAR method? (examples)
- Tips for building a collection of effective STAR stories
- STAR method interview questions - samples
1. What is the STAR method?
The STAR interview method is a technique that you can use to answer behavioral interview questions. Through this technique, you show real-life examples of how you handled a certain situation at work in the past. It’s a structure, Situation, Task, Action Result.
2. How does the STAR method work?
This method comprises 4 parts:
S - briefly describe the situation
T - describe what the challenge was
A - actions you took
R - the results
S- Situation- You should demonstrate a challenge or a situation that you faced recently.
The interviewers are more focused on the actions you took and the results you got in relation to certain situations. So, you should spend the least amount of time on this part.
Give the interviewer relevant details and enough context about the situation.
**_T- Task- _**The interviewer would like to understand what was your major objective in that situation.
Describe your responsibility or role in the situation using a minimal amount of time, like in the first component. Consider just two points that best illustrate your task.
**_A- Action- _**The focus in this part is on the steps you took to achieve that objective and the reason behind your actions.
Here, you should give the most in-depth description in your answer, as this shows your fitness for a role. Which were the most impactful steps you took to find success? Identify and discuss them.
Explain what you did in the situation. Use “I” instead of “we”. The interviewer should hire you for this role. This is not about hiring your team.
**_R- Result- _**Then you have to share the ultimate results of your actions and did you achieve your aim and if yes, then how your actions helped in achieving the aim. What did you learn from that situation and did you apply the learning anywhere else?
This is also an important part. You should focus on your answer. Which were the two to three most impressive results? Describe and discuss them.
3. How to recognize the questions on which you should answer in STAR format?
Those questions are simple to recognize. They are like:
- Tell me about a time when.
- What do you do when…
- Have you ever…
- Give me an example of…
- Describe a…
4. How to use the STAR method? (examples)
I’ll give you two examples and apply the STAR formula to them to understand it better.
(Suppose that the candidate is a student or graduate).
The question: “Share an incident in your school when you were praised for your leadership qualities.”
The answer could be in the following manner:
Situation - “I was the House Captain of my House in school.
Task - There was a tension built up in the house due to some misunderstanding between our own two mates. The House was not able to focus on the House Competitions due to this fight.
Action - I figured that talking to each of them individually will help me find out the solution to the situation.
Result - After speaking to both of them, I was able to sort out the misunderstanding between them with me acting as a mediator. I did not let the tension grow further and no teachers were involved. The dispute between the two mates came to an end and the House started focusing on the right track again.”
The interviewer might ask: “Tell me a situation in which you had to deal with an angry customer and how did you solve it”?
And the interviewee could answer:
“In my experience as a receptionist in a 4 stars hotel, I had to deal with two guests who were upset because they had asked for two single beds and the room was prepared with a double bed.
-**This is the Situation_,_ try to give enough details of the problem to keep the story real and interesting.**
The guests said they were really tired and wanted to take a nap. They didn’t want to change the room or call housekeeping to prepare their beds. They just wanted to rest a little so they went upstairs. As a receptionist, I apologized for the inconvenience and I thought about how I could improve the service.
-This is the Task, what is the way of solving the problem? In this case, improve the service and don’t let those guests stay unsatisfied with it.
So while they were sleeping I searched on the internet about interesting sightseeing around as well as city and city bus tours (they were tourists and first time visiting the city) I printed that information including maps, prices, recommendations, etc..
I put that into an envelope with a minor note saying, “I hope you enjoy the city!”.
When they woke up and they came to the reception, I gave them the envelope explaining what was inside and apologizing again for our communication mistake with housekeeping, also telling them that the rooms would be prepared right away.
-This is the Action. The most important part is where the interviewer is seeing how you think and how you handle problems.
The guests stayed for 4 days and when they were about to leave, they came to me and gave me a bottle of wine as a gift because they told me they were thrilled and enjoyed the city.
-The last part, the Results. Here, the interviewee shows how he turned a non-satisfactory feeling when they arrived at the hotel into a satisfactory one when they left. Try to end your story with positive results so you give a good impression on the interviewer (you might know how to handle problems, but the results might not always be positive).
For more examples, join the platform Interview help and let the coaches teach you how to crack Amazon interviews using STAR method.
5. Tips for building a collection of effective STAR stories
- Create 10-12 concise stories (the more you create, the better).
- If a story is from a long time ago, do not time-stamp it: avoid language such as “A long time ago” or “Back when we did things without computers” or “About 12 years ago.” If it was recent, time-stamp it by saying “Recently” or “Earlier this year” or even “When the new planning technology emerged this spring…”
- Practice your STAR strategy once a day until you land. Say the stories out loud to understand how voice infection, tempo, and word choice influence the effectiveness of the message.
- After an interview, identify any real or perceived gaps between what the hiring company needs and what you offer. Create a story to fill that gap and use it as part of a thank-you letter, a follow-up note, or to prepare for the next round of interviews with the company.
- Highlight the result when delivering stories. Think about the impact of that result. For example, did you create a process/policy that saved time/money, and is it still being used today? Was there a long-term impact as shown in the above example?
- As I mentioned above, avoid using the word “we” with STAR stories. Refer to “the company,” “the organization,” or ”the department”. It is a subtle way to distinguish yourself from the origin of the problem/challenge/initiative and conveys you are a “free agent” now and not too attached/aligned to your former employer.
6. STAR method interview questions - samples
- Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your duties for a job or task.
- Have you ever had a situation where you have to correct one of your superiors when they were wrong? How did you approach that situation?
- Have you ever had to work under a tight deadline?
- How do you deal with coworkers that don’t cooperate or can’t contribute enough?
- Tell me about a time when a client was asking for the impossible. How did you explain and communicate this to them?
- Give me an example of a time when you didn’t meet a client’s expectations. How did you deal with the situation?
- Is there a situation you think you could’ve handled better or differently?
- How do you adapt to sudden changes in the workplace? Could you give me an example?
- What was the first job you ever had? Do you remember how you adapted and learned the ropes?
- Tell me about a time when you had to think on your feet in order to deal with a situation.
- Sometimes employers put too much on their employees’ plates. Was there a time when you were overwhelmed with work? How did you handle the situation?
The bottom line: I think STAR is very effective, but only if you know what characteristics you are screening for and if the organization clearly defines those characteristics.
Amazon uses the STAR method in combination with its leadership principals effectively, but the entire process requires training, LOTS of effort, and documentation. I recommend you to join Interview Help for practicing STAR method with our coaches. Let us help you crack the Amazon interview using the STAR method.
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Hiring at Amazon is very expensive. STAR works well there because everyone knows how to use it and the resources are there to ensure a quality outcome.
I’ve found that many companies are terrible at hiring and lack a clear sense of their values or what to ask in an interview. It’s hard to use STAR if you don’t know what to listen for.
I hope this article helps.