Vanguard STAR interview

Preparing for a Vanguard interview – Be a STAR

Have an upcoming interview with us? You’ll need to know more about the STAR format – also known as behavior based interviewing – and how to prepare for these types of questions.

What are STARs?

In interviews, Vanguard hiring teams often use the STAR format, which focuses on Situation/Task, Action, and Results. This method helps us to better understand your skills, experience and working styles and how they relate to the role you’re applying for. To effectively answer these types of questions, describe the Situation or Task, the Action you took, and the Results of your specific actions. Here’s an example:

Interviewer: Tell me about a time when you had a tough client. How did you improve the relationship?

Candidate: When I worked at a retail store, we had a regular customer who wanted to use expired coupons. We can’t take expired coupons and the customer wasn’t happy about it. (Situation) I showed him how to get coupons on his phone (Action), so he would have access to our most current deals anytime he came in. We found a discount that he could apply that day (Action) and by the time he left the store, the customer was pleased and stated he would be back. (Result) I learned from that experience that you can always find a solution, even if you can’t give the customer exactly what they want.

Vanguard STAR interview

The right details

Another trick to answering STAR questions effectively is to avoid generalities. Consider the difference in these two answers:

Before: “I had a rough project. I spoke with the person who wasn’t doing their work and it got better.”

Better: “I had a team project in my marketing class where one person wasn’t completing their tasks and was holding everyone up. I approached my classmate privately and asked if he needed help. He admitted that he didn’t understand the project and wasn’t sure where to start. I offered to show my teammate an easy way to complete his research and gave him a few simple resources that could bring him up to speed. After our conversation, my classmate made a complete shift. He finished all his work, before the deadline, and we got an A on our project.”

Notice in the above examples that the interviewee gave just the right amount of detail to make the story clear, without rambling. And consider how many skills this candidate just succinctly demonstrated – team player, problem solver, strong communicator, among others.

Listen for the details

When answering STAR based questions, listen carefully to what your interviewer is asking. For example, if you are asked for one example, don’t give two. If the interviewer asks a question you dislike, don’t jump in with unrelated information or a question you prefer to answer. Taking either of these avenues shows that you can’t follow directions. You may also run out of time to answer other questions that will demonstrate your skills and applicable experiences.

Identify your STARs

You don’t have to have lots of job experience to share something relevant. Some good places to uncover STAR examples include: classwork, interactions with professors, clubs, sports, part time jobs, or volunteering.

Interviews are professional interactions, so avoid inappropriate stories. And it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Slang or fillers (such as like, um, uh) can reduce the power of your words and lessen their meaning.

Vanguard STAR interview

Final thoughts

The key to answering STAR questions is to call out past successes that apply to the role you’re interviewing for. Make sure the end result of your example is a win for all parties involved.

Also, the experiences you choose for STARs don’t have to be awe-inspiring. Leadership during team sports, problem-solving with a professor, or clear communication while volunteering can all demonstrate that you have the skills and experiences to flourish in your future role.

If you enjoyed this post, check out these Vanguard interview tipsAnd if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career, search our Client Services opportunities at

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