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Jonathan Greenhalgh Internal, White Collar...

Be an interview S.T.A.R

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Job interviews can be hard, sometimes awkward, and sometimes they are, shockingly, quite pleasant. One way you can take the pressure off a little is to make sure that you are prepared to give impressive, engaging answers to the interviewer. You should have already done your pre-interview research… if not you can get some hot tips on that here

You're going to want to be able to give solid answers when asked about your experience without coming across as if you are bragging. One way that you can do this is by using the S.T.A.R method.

S.T.A.R stands for Situation, Task, Acton and result. This approach makes giving epic answers to those pesky competency questions a lot easier. These questions usually start with phrases like, "describe a time when…" and "give an example of a time where…".

These types of behavioural questions are typically about how you have handled certain work situations in the past. Past performance can be a good indicator of the future, so interviewers ask these types of questions to help them determine if you have the skills and experience to excel in the job you are interviewing for.

As an example, the interviewer may be looking for proof of your problem-solving skills, ability to analyse situations, and how creative you are amongst many other things.

Some questions could be:

"Tell me about a time that you had to hit a deadline…"

"What do you do when a member of your team refuses to complete their share of the work?"

"Tell me about a time that you have gone above and beyond the call of duty."

S.T.A.R is an acronym for the four steps of the method, and you can use each one to answer behavioural interview questions. Using all four levels, you can create a comprehensive answer to any question.

Situation
Set out the context within which you did your job or faced a challenge in your work situation. For example, you may have had a conflict with a co-worker or working on a group project. This is an example of a condition that can be given from work experience, a volunteer role or other relevant event. Just remember to be as specific as possible.

Task
The next step is to describe what your responsibility was in the situation. Maybe you led a group in a particular task, completed a piece of work that was vital to a more significant project on a tight deadline or resolved a conflict with a co-worker.

Action
Now you're going to describe how you completed the task or met the challenge that you are describing. Focus on what you did, not what your team, co-worker or boss did. Don't say "we did.." instead lead with "I did".

Result
Explain the outcomes or the final result of the action that you took. It's going to be really helpful to emphasise what you accomplished or what you learned.

But how do you prepare for an interview when you don't know what line of questioning you may face? You should prepare by compiling a list of several different scenarios that you have encountered in the jobs that you had.

Start by listing the skills required for the job you are interviewing for. Do this by looking at the job description and listings for similar roles. Now think about different examples of times that you have used or displayed those skills and for each example, apply the S.T.A.R method.

Examples.

Example 1. Q. Describe a time that you had to hit a tight deadline. Tell me about the situation and how you handled it?

Example 1. A. I usually like to plan my work out in stages, completing it piece by piece but I am also totally adept to working to tight deadlines when the need arises. At my former company, a colleague left the business 4 days before a massive project they were working on was due to be handed over to the client. I was asked to take over the project with only a short time to learn about and finish off the project. I planned out the work and delegated some of the tasks to my team, I managed to get the project handed over a day early. I believe that I thrive when asked to work to a deadline.

Example 2. Q. Describe a time that you sobbed initiative on the job?

Example 2. A. Last year we were pitching a huge client for a new project, and I was providing support to the account manager who was delivering the pitch. A week before the pitch was due, he was taken ill and had to have time off work.

I put my name forward to fill in for him, as I knew the project well and coordinated with the various departments that we're helping create the presentation to get it finished.

I was able to get the presentation finished and present it to the client. The client loved the presentation ad we won't he project.

We hope you manage to put the S.T.A.R method to good use in your interviews and land yourself a new role! If you need some advice on finding a new job…. Make sure that you check out our "guide to finding a new job" by clicking here.