The Interview

This article will look at how to prepare yourself adequately for an interview. While it is not advisable to learn answers by rote, it is worth preparing a format for answering difficult or tricky questions. Interviews can be daunting experiences where applicants become nervous and often tongue tied. No matter how confident and relaxed you may feel before an interview, you never know how you will react once you are face to face with your potential employer. Remember, an interview is a way to sell yourself to a potential employer and present yourself, your skills and your abilities in the best possible light. To better market yourself and all you have to offer, it is important to clarify and articulate your skills. If you become nervous or intimidated by a question the interviewer asks, you may not be able to present yourself to the best of your ability.

A proven interview technique for answering difficult and ‘hang yourself’ questions is the STAR technique. Learning this technique equips you with a priceless skill should you incur difficulties in answering questions during your interview. For example, if an interviewer asks you to “tell me about a mistake you have made”, you can use the STAR technique to construct a positive answer without becoming flustered or agitated.

Situation or

Task
Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, a hobby interest or work experience.
Action you took Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did. The positive and the negatives.
Results you
achieved
What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Tips for preparing an answer to an interview question under the STAR technique

  1. First you should gather at least 4 good examples from your work experiences, hobbies, university or previous jobs. For example, how you dealt with an angry caller, how you organised a fundraising event, how you overcame a problem, how you got your opinion noticed and valued.
  2. S is for Situation. State the situation. You can say “I handle frustrated and angry situations often in my current job. The last situation I encountered was when…” - fill in the rest.
  3. T is for Task. Here is where you state the task you underwent to remedy the situation. You can say - "My task or my job was to act quickly and get the problem solved with as little wait time as possible"
  4. A is for action. Here is where you state what action you took to achieve your goal.
  5. R is for result. Here is where you summarise your result. You can say "The result was that the client was…..”

Some typical questions that can be answered by using the STAR technique

  • What is the most difficult people situation you have had to resolve?
  • Tell me about the last time something went wrong at the last minute and how you dealt with that?
  • Tell me about a team based situation where you have had to influence a student or peer to achieve a result?
  • Describe a meeting you had to lead. How did you conduct the meeting?
STAR - The Star Interview technique will always let you answer your interview questions in full - you will never go off on a tangent since you know you must address each letter.

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