Close the Job Interview with the STAR Method
You’re in a job interview, and things are going well. You’ve engaged in friendly small talk with the hiring manager, and you’re nailing your answers to the questions you’re being asked.
Just when you start thinking you have this interview cinched, the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time when…”
For some, these types of open-ended interview questions are tough to answer. You must quickly think on your feet. That’s why they ask the questions that way, to test you under pressure.
Here’s the good news. There’s a strategy you can use to come up with impressive answers: the STAR interview method.
What is the STAR Interview method?
The STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format to answer behavioral interview questions—those prompts that ask you to provide a real-life example of how you handled a certain kind of situation at work in the past.
They often have telltale openings such as:
“Describe a situation when…”
“What do you do when…”
“Have you ever…”
“Give me an example of…”
Thinking of a fitting example for your response is just the beginning. You must share details in a compelling and easy-to-understand way, not a rambling and unfocused response.
The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing. It gives you a chance to highlight how you use your professional experience, abilities, and personal strengths to overcome business challenges and meet goals.
The key is to answer these open-ended questions with a solid example to give the interviewer confidence in your abilities.
Situation: 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, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Task: Explain the goal you were working toward.
Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on your role. What specific steps did you take and what was your contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project, but what you did. Use the word “I”, not “we”, when describing actions.
Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.
Give clear and concise responses, while also demonstrating depth of knowledge. Don’t hesitate to ask for validation – “did I answer your question?”
Prior to the Interview
Prior to your interview, search on the internet for “common interview questions” and think ahead about common questions relating to your skillset & the requirements for the job. Prepare your STAR in advance. Practice your answers to make sure they are clear and concise.
Have both the job description and your resume printed in front of you for reference during the interview.
Have examples and be prepared to answer questions relating to:
Managing a project from beginning to end
Project control processes
Funding approval experience
Risk Mitigation Planning
Navigating the organization
Interaction with Key Stakeholders
Attention to detail
Thinking on your feet
Systematic problem solving
Good luck. May your STAR qualities shine brightly.