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Career Development Brendan Barbieri

Shine Like A STAR: The Can’t-Miss Method to Acing Behavioral Interviews

Don’t fade in the employer’s memory—be the shining supernova you are!

Do you wish you had a nickel for every time you heard a question start with “Tell me about a time you…” during an interview? If that question sounds familiar, it’s because that is a common way to ask a behavioral interview question.

Behavioral interview questions try to get at the heart of just that, your behavior. Employers want to know what you would do in different situations based on your past behavior. Your resume will give them a taste of your accomplishments, but your answer to the behavioral question will tell them how you got there and what they might expect from you in a day-to-day role.

Behavioral questions vary widely in how they are asked but usually cover a specific range of overall topics. These topics can include:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Dealing with Failure/a Mistake
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Going Above and Beyond
  • Difficult Choices
  • Prioritization
  • Customer Service

STAR Method

The goal of effectively answering behavioral questions is to answer what you have done, not what you would do. Employers are looking for specific examples from your past, so a great way to prepare is to start thinking about specific examples that fall into these categories. You likely have experienced all of these scenarios at one level or another, even if it doesn’t feel like it. For example, if you are asked about leadership but haven’t held a managerial role, you likely still led a team project or took the lead on an initiative within the workplace. By thinking through these topics in advance, you will be well-prepared for it during an interview.

Now that you know what behavioral questions are, how do you answer them? A great way to answer these questions is the STAR method. STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action 
  • Result

For this example, let’s imagine you are interviewing for the role of a healthcare administrative lead. You are asked about how you provided great customer service. As a patient services representative, you have the perfect answer when you receive a call from an upset patient. Here’s how you can set it up.


During the Situation, you are setting the scene of what happened.

“While working at the hospital in the billing department, I received a call from a patient who received an unexpected bill from their insurance. The patient was upset and demanding it be resolved right away.”


For the Task, you want to explain your responsibility in the situation and how your role related.

“As a patient services representative, my responsibility was to help resolve patient concerns or connect them to the right department. While I frequently received billing questions, the hospital did have a separate billing department.”


For the Action, you want to explain what you specifically did in the situation.

“The first thing I did was listen to the patient and their concerns. I asked clarifying questions where appropriate to ensure I was fully understanding the issue and also demonstrating I was paying close attention. The patient made it clear they did not want to be transferred to anyone and were tired of waiting on the phone. I let them know I understood their frustration and apologized for what they went through. I explained I was not in the billing department, but I would personally follow up with the billing department and call them back once I had more information. I then took the situation to a billing team member to help find a solution.”


The Result is what ties the whole story together. You need to drive home what you accomplished in that situation as that shows the employer how you would be able to get results. Whenever possible, include numbers that can give the employer a tangible result as well (for example, this led to an increase in sales of $XX, or processing time was cut down by X%).

“While speaking with the billing representative, I informed them the patient had come in for a yearly eye exam. The patient said that while they had vision insurance, they had received a bill from their medical insurer, which is a separate company. The billing representative confirmed this and said it was because the file showed the ophthalmologist had made a new diagnosis which resulted in a medical claim and not a vision claim. The billing representative followed up with the ophthalmologist who confirmed that a new diagnosis was not given and therefore the visit should have been sent to the vision insurance as a yearly check-up. We were able to contact the insurer and resubmit the claim to turn the patient’s $600 bill into a $0 yearly eye inspection that was covered by insurance. When the patient was informed, they thanked me profusely, and I let them know it was a team effort between myself, the medical biller, and their doctor.”

It can feel like a lot to navigate these questions, but behavioral interview questions do have one easy thing going for them — they only require honesty and clear communication of situations you’ve already been in. Interviews can be overwhelming. While practice is important, sounding too over-rehearsed can be off-putting. By planning with specific examples that apply to common behavioral interview topics, the STAR method allows you to give a natural and flowing response that highlights your achievements. Don’t fade in the employer’s memory—be the shining supernova you are!

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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