Are you in the job market searching for a new job? Have you been contacted for an interview? Great! You need to know the S.T.A.R. Interview Method and behavioral interviewing which is a popular method of job interviewing.
One method of behavioral interviewing is known as the S.T.A.R method; this is a technique used by an interviewer to evaluate your past behavior for the purpose of predicting your future performance in a similar situation. Answering behavioral questions well requires preparation so that your answers are thoughtful, specific, and organized. Assuming that you have done your homework about the company, and the job seems like an interesting opportunity, and now you just need to have a successful interview, understanding this technique will give you another tool in your career arsenal—knowledge is power.
S.T.A.R. stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Think of it as reaching for the stars…you have to practice interviewing to become a star, the one selected for the job. Rise above the other candidates! To explain this more:
Situation – A question might be: Think of a situation in which you were on a team that had a positive outcome for the company.
Task – Describe the tasks that you performed that led to that outcome.
Action – Specify what actions you took to complete the tasks and achieve your results as part of the team.
Results – What results were achieved due to your actions?
Find out as much as you can about the position for which you are being interviewed and identify what skills are required to be successful in this position. Ask for the job description prior to the interview. Do you have some of the skills listed? Don’t be afraid to explain how your skills tie into the job requirements. Past accomplishments equal future success. You are your own best chief marketer.
Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were positive and also examples where the outcomes were not as desired. Practice answers to these types of questions. Be specific and provide facts and figures when possible. Don’t fumble or be grasping for something to say. Be organized with your answers. Own the situation you are talking about and walk it through to the ending.
If you practice this strategy, you will gain confidence and be able to recognize when this method is being used by the interviewer and follow along providing the best answers.
- Think of a situation in which you were involved that had a positive outcome.
- Describe the tasks involved in the situation.
- Specify what actions you took in the situation to complete the tasks and achieve your results.
What results followed due to your actions? Use the following guidelines to enable this effective strategy:
- Analyze the position for which you are being interviewed and determine what skills are required.
- Evaluate and reflect upon your background to identify your skills and experiences related to the position. Think about your experiences and skills gained in class, internships, leadership positions, and activities and relate them to the skill sets required by the position for which you are interviewing.
- Identify three to five top selling points—attributes that set you apart from other candidates—and be sure to take the opportunity to point them out during the interview using “S.T.A.R. Stories.”
- Create brief “S.T.A.R. Stories” prior to the interview that demonstrates your teamwork abilities, initiative, planning, leadership, commitment, and problem-solving skills. Try to be as relevant as possible to the position. Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were different than expected.
- Practice your stories, but be careful not to memorize as you may forget nuances of your story when in a pressure situation. Reviewing them before your interview will give you confidence in knowing you are prepared and will eliminate fumbling for words and awkward silences in the interview.
- Be specific in your stories. Giving generalizations will not help the employer understand and evaluate your behavior and skills. Employers want to know what you did rather than what you would do in a given situation.
- Quantify wherever possible. It is evidence of your achievements, accomplishments, and efforts.
- Be honest! Omitting or embellishing parts of your story could lead to disaster if the interviewer discovers that the foundation of your story is weak.
In using this strategy, you will be able to showcase your accomplishments, skills, and knowledge and show the employer what a S.T.A.R. you are! The following example shows how you might use the S.T.A.R. Method to answer this behavioral interview question.
You indicated on your resume that leadership is one of your strengths. Please describe an experience in which you used your leadership abilities
During my third year of college, I was elected Vice President for Professional Programs for my student association. The duties of the position included securing speakers for our meetings, advertising the programs to the campus community, introducing speakers, and evaluating each program.
Previous attendance at meetings had decreased substantially due to a decrease in the overall student population. The goal was to implement programs to address the professional development of our association and increase attendance by 25% compared to the prior year’s figures.
I assembled a team to help with the program design and speaker selection. I developed a survey to determine the members’ professional interests and ideas for possible speakers and topics. My team and I had each member complete the survey. Then we randomly selected members for a focus group interview. I had learned about this research technique in my marketing class and thought it would help us identify why attendance had dropped.
Because of the information we gathered from the surveys and interviews, we selected speakers for the entire year, produced a brochure describing each program and the featured speaker. Under my leadership, attendance increased 150% over the previous year.
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Jean is a certified senior-level human resources executive/consultant, adjunct professor, management trainer, professional speaker, resume writer, career coach, and author.