Does the thought of behavioral-based interview questions make you sweat? Do you feel like your mind goes blank when someone asks you to provide an example of a time when you (__fill in the blank__) or do you feel like you miss opportunities to showcase yourself by responding with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when you had a great story about your work history that would have been more relevant?
Do you want the ability to go into an interview feeling confident about the experience and skills you have to share and have a meaningful way to communicate this?
While you may not have felt great about your past interview experiences, there’s a simple acronym that can help you clear the fog of your memory, break down your responses into manageable parts and make you feel like the star of your next interview.
It’s referred to as the STAR technique. And STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
By remembering this acronym, along with preparing a few examples of your past experience, you can impart meaningful, relevant information to the interviewer that sets you apart from other candidates.
But just knowing the acronym isn’t enough. To use the STAR technique for answering interview questions, preparation and practice starts before the interview. Take some time to sit and jot down a few of your experiences and highlights from your work history that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for.
For example, if you are in sales, you might jot down how you were the top sales person 3 quarters in a row last year. Or if you work as an account manager, you may be proud that you stepped in and helped retain a struggling client by reworking an existing solution for them.
Choose situations that were challenges in your work history as well as those that focus on your accomplishments, and make sure you select a diverse set of illustrations of your experience. Then break each of this scenarios down using the STAR method.
First describe the ‘Situation.’ You are developing a context for the story you are telling the interviewer. Then explain the particular ‘Task’ or challenge that needed to be addressed. Outline what was expected of the situation and be sure to layout any conditions or constraints that arose.
Next, build on the scenario you’ve laid out by what ‘Action’ occurred on your part in response to the task or challenge. Don’t be shy about including details like how you pulled together a team effort or what type of coordination the project took.
Finally, convey and quantify the ‘Results’ of your actions. How did your actions respond to the situation? What results did you achieve? Were there any significant takeaways from the experience? Were you recognized for your efforts?
You will find that your narrative style of responding to a question starts to feel like a story, and stories are easier for our brains to relate to and remember. This is good for both you and the interviewer.
Now that you’ve rehearsed and prepared these examples you can go into the interview with more confidence approaching each question. Even if a question is asked that one of your examples doesn’t apply to, don’t fret.
Because you’ve practiced how to break down and communicate your responses, take a moment to listen and understand the question. If you need a beat to think, feel free to paraphrase the question with the interviewer to ask if you understand it correctly.
Allow yourself a few seconds to bring an example to mind and organize it using the same STAR technique you practiced. Stick to the simple outline and structure of the STAR method. Resist the urge to include new details after the fact or to ramble.
Try to keep your responses brief; interview coaches vary their recommended times from 1-3 minutes for each response using the STAR method. If the interviewer has follow-up questions, these can now be confirmed with a more simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or a brief clarifying statement.
You no longer have to stumble through your next interview. Utilizing the STAR method, you can provide structured, well tailored responses to any difficult interview question in an easy, narrative fashion.
By showcasing your personal success stories using this technique, you will impress the interviewer with your ability to discuss your unique qualifications for the position and outshine your competition for the role. So show off your talents and experience in your next interview by being a STAR interviewer!