Interviewing for a new job can feel like stumbling through an improv exercise. You don't know what questions to expect walking in, and you try your best to come up with great answers on the spot to "yes and" your way through the scene. But just as there are tactics improv actors use to keep a scene heading in the right direction, there is a sure-fire formula for cultivating strong interview responses: the STAR Method. STAR stands for
This technique is designed for behavioral questions, which can be some of the trickiest and most crucial questions to get right. Questions like:
- Can you tell me about a time you exercised leadership skills?
- What professional achievement are you most proud of?
- How have you dealt with conflict at work?
Behavioral questions are meant to help the interviewer get a feel for how you put your skills and beliefs into action. They want to gauge your level of experience with certain situations and if your behavior makes you a good fit for the rest of the team. With the STAR method, you can share a compelling story that helps highlight your best qualities. Here's how it works:
- Lay out the situation. This is where you set the scene, so to speak. Give the interviewer background information to provide context for your story. "I noticed we were still filing a lot of physical paperwork alongside our online database. I discussed with my supervisor how this might be lowering our efficiency."
- Describe the task that you were given or took on to improve the situation. "My supervisor asked me to delve into our online database to see if there were capabilities we weren't utilizing."
- Elaborate on the specific actions you took - this is where you can highlight your skills and competencies, the real-world experience you have with things important to this new job. "I found many capabilities in our online database that we weren't taking advantage of. I showed my supervisor how using these features in place of the physical paperwork could make it easier to add and keep track of our records."
- Share your results. Every good story has a happy ending, so make sure to express how you succeeded and what the benefits were. "Based on my findings, we implemented a new company policy moving away from physical paperwork. Afterward, we saw a huge increase in our overall efficiency."
The STAR method can be applied to many other types of questions as well. Even if a question doesn't directly call for an anecdotal response, having a specific example to share can strengthen your answer. It's one thing to say that you are good at project management, but it's another to actually show it through a detailed explanation.
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