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Make Yourself a STAR at Interviewing

Posted on: December 7, 2015

Category: Interviewing

STAR interview techniqueLearn the STAR Interviewing Technique

Do you want to be a STAR at job interviewing? Don’t be caught off guard when interviewing by an employer who asks a series of specific questions about your past work experiences. He or she is hoping you’ll give concrete examples of desirable past behaviors, which could indicate your future success with the company.

These types of questions are called behavioral interview questions, and with the help of the STAR acronym, you can learn how to answer to impress when interviewing. You could be asked a question such as, “Can you describe a time when you received constructive criticism? How did you respond?”

When answering such a question, your response should have four parts, one for each letter in the STAR technique. Your answer should demonstrate your abilities to adapt, overcome challenges, find innovative solutions, and succeed.

What does STAR stand for?

  • Situation: Provide the background information or context; where or when something occurred. Set the stage.
  • Task: State the expectations or challenge presented; what needed to be done.
  • Action: Tell about the specific action you took, how you did it, and what tools were used.
  • Results: Report what your action led to. Quantify the outcome. Talk about recognition, savings, accomplishments, etc.

You don’t want to give general answers, or theorize. The interviewer is looking for specific details about a situation you experienced, what the challenge was, how you handled it, and what the outcome was. Be clear, confident, and succinct while interviewing.

Prep for interviewing

If you have a job interview coming up, prepare for it by going over sample questions. Answer the questions out loud, and if possible, enlist a friend or family member to ask you the questions so you get used to answering in front of an audience. Your answers should be stated using the four-part STAR interviewing technique.

TIP: 5 Tips to Take the FEAR Out of Your Next Interview

Sample behavioral interview questions:

  • Talk about a time when members of your team disagreed with an idea of yours. How did you respond?
  • Describe a time when you didn’t get along with a coworker. Why was this person hard to work with, and what was your response in that situation?
  • What is the most creative solution you’ve come up with to solve a challenge on the job?
  • Describe a time when you had to correct a client, or reject a request of theirs. How did you communicate the news to him or her, and what reasons did you state?
  • What is your most significant accomplishment to date?

After you’ve answered the practice questions, critique your answers. Did part of your answer include detail that doesn’t contribute to the narrative you’re telling? Did you adequately spell out the action taken and results? Or maybe you need to think of better examples before interviewing. Practice makes perfect.

STAR interviewer

If you’re the interviewer, plan in advance which questions you’ll ask. Choose questions that would draw out answers describing the qualities you’re looking for in a job candidate. Do you need a worker who can take initiative, is a good communicator, and is able to work well on a team? Orient your questions around those traits.

If you don’t understand a candidate’s answer, or want more information, pose follow-up questions to get clarity. Stay away from hypothetical questions that don’t tell you how a candidate has responded in a real situation.

Be a STAR

Whether you’re the interviewee or interviewer, the STAR interviewing technique can be a great way to discover whether the job or the candidate is the right fit. A little bit of prep can launch you into STARdom.

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