Be a STAR in interviews

Interviews can be daunting experiences, people often find themselves becoming tongue tied when asked difficult questions, going off on a tangent or not addressing the question properly The STAR method is a tried and tested way to portray skills and help give logical answers, regardless of nerves.

An interview is a way to sell yourself to a potential employer and present yourself in the best possible light. To better market yourself during the interview, it is important to clarify and articulate your skills using specific examples or 'stories” from your experience.

The acronym, STAR, comes from the words: Situation, Task, Action and Result. It is a proven method to answering the more elaborate questions in an interview. Learning STAR Techniques for answering difficult job interview questions is a priceless skill to acquire. The STAR technique can also be helpful for answering the 'hang yourself questions” like: 'Tell me about a mistake you’ve made”. You can use the STAR technique to come up with a positive response.

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, college 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. It is advisable to create a list with four headings; S T A R.

  3. 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.

  4. 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" or " My job was to have their account credited on the spot to diffuse the tense situation".

  5. A is for action. Here is where you state what action you took to achieve your goal. You might say "The action I took was to call up to our billing supervisor and have her credit his account while he was still on the phone" or along those lines.

  6. R is for result. Here is where you summarize your result. You can say " The result was that the client was happy about the instant credit and went away satisfied"

  7. 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.

Example answer using the STAR method

Use the STAR technique to answer the following question.

"Tell me about a situation in which you demonstrated management skills?"

SITUATION - Define the situation or "set the stage".
"Last year my sports team sponsored a fund raising project for the local community centre."

TASK - Identify the task/project performed.
"I directed this fund raising campaign."

ACTION - Describe the action that you took/initiated. This response should illustrate the specific skills you used in completing the task.
"I organized and chaired a committee of eight people; I delegated jobs to each person. I designed posters and developed the publicity campaign. I was also in charge of the monetary aspects of the fundraising campaign and developed my accounting abilities."

RESULT - Summarize the outcome.
"We raised $3,000 for the community centre and I was asked to return to organise the fundraising campaign for the team again this year. Also, because of the success of this campaign, one of our club alumni has invited me to serve on the committee for a whole club fundraiser for a centenary celebration later this year."

Remember to be specific! Employers claim that many job seekers give vague and indefinite responses. For example, if you claim that you have strong leadership skills, demonstrate them by citing some actual 'stories” from your experiences.

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?

Remember-
Situation, Task, Action and Result


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