How to crack behaviorial interview questions using the STAR Method

InterviewQs' goal is to get you prepared for the quantitative side of a Data Science interview. However when you are interviewing for a DS role, you’re most likely going to be asked both quantitative and qualitative questions. The goal of this post is to take you through:

  1. Examples of qualitative questions
  2. How you should answer these types of questions (STAR Method)
  3. How you can prepare for this part of your interview (practice, practice, practice)

1. Examples of qualitative interview questions [more listed at bottom of post]

  • Tell me a time where you failed at a task
  • Tell me about a time where you influenced a decision with data
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker
  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead without authority
  • Tell me about a time you had to explain a technical analysis to a non-technical audience

2. STAR Method

If you are asked a question when you are asked to tell about a past experience, you should frame the question using the STAR methodology. STAR is an acronym for (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). Situation: What is the context to your story? Set the scene for your interviewer. Be sure to include who, what, when, where, and how of the situation. Provide enough context early on so that the interviewer will be able to follow your story Task: Describe the task at hand and your involvement, keep it specific and concise and be sure to highlight the challenges with the task at hand. Action: Describe what you did to accomplish the task. Specify skills, tools, characteristics, behaviors, and any conflicts. Result: Share the outcome of the situation and specifically how you contributed to the outcome.

You'll most likely get follow up questions during the interview to clarify points you’ve made, and that’s fine! Answer the question as clearly as possible.

3. Preparation for behavioral questions

The best way to prepare for behavioral questions is to have curated a list of situations you’ve been in the past. I typically write out 10-12 scenarios I’ve experienced and clearly label the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. I rehearse these with another person and ensure that my language is clear, my scenario makes sense, and clearly highlights the impact of my contribution to the situation/task.

Find some additional behavioral questions, and ensure that the scenarios you’ve outlined capture a majority of the questions in your list. It’s okay if one of your scenarios covers 3-4 questions, as long as you’re prepared to answer the question, you should be fine!

Bonus example behavioral questions:

• Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way. • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills. • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem. • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it. • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone's opinion. • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.