It’s very common for interviewers to ask, “Tell me about a time when…” It’s easy to draw a blank on these questions because they aren’t ones you can prepare for. Or can you? This blog will show you how to handle common types of behavioral questions called the STAR interview method.
What is the STAR Interview Method?
The STAR interview model is a specific way to respond to a behavioral interview question by discussing the situation, task, action, and result of what you’re describing.
Behavioral interview questions ask the candidate to describe a specific real-life example of how you handled a work situation. You’ll recognize these questions by these common phrases:
- Tell me about a time when you –
- What do you down when –
- Have you ever had a situation where you –
- Describe a –
- Can you give me an example of –
If you get one of these questions in your next interview, remember the acronym STAR to help frame your response. For example:
Describe the situation you were in. What task did you need to accomplish? Be specific; the interview will listen to how well you communicate the picture of what happened.
What was the goal you were working toward? What were your responsibilities?
Concisely describe the actions taken to remedy the situation. Don’t talk about the team here. Describe what you did, what you contributed, and how you helped complete the task.
What was the result? Be realistic but not shy when describing your contribution to the tasks and how the problem was solved. Also, share what you learned from this experience.
If you stick with the STAR model when answering a difficult behavioral question, it will help you concisely answer the interviewer’s question without getting too far into the weeds. Despite what you might imagine, you can prepare for these types of interview questions in advance by practicing your responses to the typical types of behavioral questions we described above.
First, give some thought to your history and background. Pull out a few scenarios where you proved your value to the organization. The tricky part will be to make the stories concise. Think of it from the interviewer’s perspective to determine what they need to know. Don’t overshare, and don’t run on too long, or you’ll lose your audience. Keep things concise and focus on the most relevant piece of your story.
While you can’t know in advance what the interviewer will ask, you can pull out a few stories and examples that are adaptable and useful no matter what the hiring team asks. Brainstorm a few examples, and even write them down. Then, if you’re taking a tablet or notebook into the interview with questions for the hiring team, write down a few keywords to remind you of the stories you practiced. That way, you’ll be less likely to draw a blank.
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