Let's talk about the STAR format!

star format Jan 29, 2023

The other day, I saw a post on Facebook encouraging aspiring flight attendants not to over-prepare for interviews for fear of sounding “rehearsed.”

The creator of the post went on to share their experience of an interview that they “bombed” (their words) and blamed the setback on over-preparing STAR format answers. They said that they knew during the interview that they were not coming across as authentic and felt like the STAR format was an overused and unhelpful tool for answering interview questions.

From my experience helping thousands of flight attendants land their dream jobs, here's what I know: The problem wasn't the tool - it was the way that the tool was being used.  

Before we dive in, I want to make sure that you know how important it is to look back and debrief after every interview. I'm so proud of this aspiring flight for taking the time to unpack the interview and learn from it. This is what I encourage all of my students to do! Looking back and thinking about the questions you struggled with, the feelings you felt, and the reaction of the recruiter during your interview is a valuable investment of your time and energy. (Remember: interviewing is a skill, and just like athletes review game tape, you will improve by reviewing your own performance)  

If this aspiring flight attendant were one of my students and we were debriefing this interview together, this is the feedback that I would give: 

  1. DO NOT USE THE STAR FORMAT WHEN ANSWERING EVERY INTERVIEW QUESTION YOU ARE ASKED!  Whew. I had to raise my voice a little, but this is important. There are 4 types of interview questions that you will encounter as an aspiring flight attendant, and STAR format questions are only one type. If you make the mistake of trying to “STAR format” every answer you give, you will struggle. You will feel awkward and inauthentic. And you will not be able to answer the interview questions well. The FACC Interview Workbook is broken into four sections for this very reason. The Workbook includes training for STAR Format questions as well as the other three types: Personality Questions, Tell Me What You Think, and Onboard Situational Questions (What would you do Questions.) If you don’t know what the term "STAR Format" means, you’ll find everything you need to know in The FACC Interview Workbook Bundle.
  2. Your goal when answering interview questions is to sound prepared, not rehearsed. The way you accomplish this is through preparation and practice, not scripts and rehearsals. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about interview coaching with me, or even practicing for your interview, is that if you ask for help, you will end up sounding like a robot. Now, depending on how you practice, this could be the case, but honestly, it takes a ton of work to become so rehearsed that you sound like a robot. You have to first write, then memorize a script. You avoid sounding rehearsed by first changing your interview answer goal from “perfect answer” to “good answer.” This will allow you to think and prepare your answers with a theme or an outline instead of a script you feel like you have to deliver word for word. This is why the FACC Interview Workbook only contains questions (and training) but no answers. Your brilliance, your passion, your experience, your personality, and your beauty could never be captured in a canned answer written by someone else. No matter how “right” that answer may sound.
  3. The STAR Format does have an important place in your interview answers. Like I said earlier, not all questions you are asked during an interview are going to require you to use the STAR acronym to answer, but some of the questions most definitely will. Fret not about the STAR Format and don't let this type of answer discourage you! The STAR acronym.  S-situation, T-task, A-action, R-result. It is a guide for you to use as you navigate through your story helping you stay on track and avoid bunny trails. I have more good news: you are not being interviewed for a job as a STAR format-er. The recruiter is not testing and evaluating your ability to STAR format, instead, the STAR format is a tool to help you successfully answer a “Tell me about a time when you…” question. I know the STAR Format can feel intimidating at first, but The FACC Interview Workbook bundle includes the class Focus On: STAR Format, which is full of instruction and example answers from a wide variety of industries. Click here to purchase and you'll get instant access.

There you have it! As you can see, it's not the STAR format that can stand in the way of your success, it's the way you use this tool that makes the difference. At Flight Attendant Career Connection, we have endless success stories of students who use this tool to master the skill of interviewing with confidence.

And you know what interviewing with confidence leads to? Landing your dream job!