If you’ve been preparing for an interview, you’ve likely been going over obvious questions that may be asked of you like, how long you were in your last role? What are your strengths? Etc… But your interviewer may also ask you a few questions that may seem to come from left field and get you stumbling around an appropriate answer – if you’re not prepared.
These types of questions are behavioral questions and may start with:
“Tell me about a time when…”
“Have you ever…”
“What do you do when…”
“Share an example of…”
You may not know exactly which questions they’ll be asking, but you can prepare yourself for answering them by using the STAR method. The STAR method is a system for working through how to answer these types of questions by highlighting your best qualities and skills.
But first, let’s get clear on what STAR means. STAR is an acronym which stands for:
Situation – Describe the circumstances or scene that you’ll be talking about.
Task – Explain your responsibility in that situation.
Action – Clarify what measures you took to address the issue.
Result – Communicate the outcome.
Here’s a breakdown of how to apply this method to prepare for and use, in your next interview.
You’ll want to have a few different scenarios in your mind that you can recall for different question you may be asked. You’ll also want to highlight various skillsets, just ensure you match your skills to the job and that each situation is relevant & relatable to the position. Consider the behavioral questions above for ideas on which situations to keep top of mind.
For any situations you consider discussing, make sure you are ultimately viewed in a positive way. Focus on YOU and not the team or other coworkers. And even if the end result isn’t favorable, focus on how YOU were able to rise to the occasion, how you learned something new or how your actions impacted the business or team in a successful way.
Now that you have a situation in mind, recall your responsibilities in that scenario. What were you responsible for in that circumstance? What were you tasked with at that time? Were you responsible for keeping a customer happy, finding a solution to a problem, resolving a technical issue, completing a difficult task within a tight deadline? Explain your task(s) and be specific and relevant.
Describe the steps you took to resolve the issue, completed the task or met the goal. Did you create a special team? Use a specific program? Worked meticulously? Designed something unique, etc…? Whatever it is, be specific and ensure you highlight your effort towards reaching the outcome.
Lastly, explain the results of your actions taken. What was accomplished? What lessons where learned? What successes happened? What new skills did you walk away with? In short, how did your actions lead to a positive result? Be specific. You may even want to use actual numbers to convey your success.
Now that you have the STAR framework, write down your answers to the above questions keeping in mind to keep your answers brief and concise. The quicker you can get to the point, the better. Practice reciting your responses aloud, so you feel comfortable describing and explaining each situation. The more practiced you are, the more comfortable you will be and the more confidence you’ll project in your interview.
Written by Christine Graham