What is S.T.A.R?
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
In interviews, hiring managers are trained to ask a series of special questions. We’ve already covered a lot about these questions in previous posts but suffice to say, they come in a few more shapes and forms. All things considered, however, these are not “yes” or “no” questions. The jobseeker has to articulate their answer based on their past experience or their future hopes.
These are known as behavioural questions.
Interviewers are trying to find out what sort of person is sitting in front of them and can they work together no matter how difficult it gets. The idea behind this is that past behaviour determines the future one. Here are some examples of those behavioural questions.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about a time you solved a problem.
- Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? Ten years?
- Describe the best job you’ve ever had.
- Tell us about a time you had a disagreement with your boss. What did you do to solve the problem?
- What are the characteristics of a good boss?
- Why should we hire you?
- How would a good friend / current or last boss describe you?
- Have you ever been fired or forced to resign?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
Assuming you are being asked, “Tell us about a time when you had to manage a problem in a project. What did you do to overcome the problem?” Then you go on and tell them what you did. In an interviewer’s mind, your past habit or action may return again in the same way. They are going to think that if they hire you and put you in that same predicament again, you would behave the same way, thus the same outcome for them.
However, here’s the silver lining in this. Although it seems like an intimidating question, it’s not perfect. You see, much time has passed and you have learned a lot since then. Simply because you did something 4 years ago, it doesn’t mean you will do the same thing now.
With all these in mind, let us consider the STAR method which you can use to give an answer with the necessary clarity both for you and them. This grounding is important to keep you firm and not end up nervous and fumbling up.
1. S – Situation – The situation at that time.
3. A – Action. What action you did.
4. R- Result. What was the outcome?
The answer to the above “Tell us about a time when you had to manage a problem in a project. What did you do to overcome the problem?” can sound something like this.
“During my time with Company ABC, I had to work on an urgent annual report project. The brief for the project was not ready and I quickly realized that on the client’s side, they did not know how to organise and proceed. All they had were some write up and the financials. My staff also had little experience in executing a project of this size but I had the experience.
I set about immediately having a meeting with the client and my staff and I had already created a template for the annual report for this meeting. Based on this template, a laundry list of to do’s were organized down to the T and the tasks were delegated. Now, the client knew what was expected of them and the timeline.
ACTIONS- (Point form is better)
1. A master template was created with all tasks and deliverables duly highlighted for client’s deliverables and ours.
2. Photography was organised first for the directors.
3. Copywriter was sent to the client’s office for a few days to help produce the best copy.
4. Body and Financial Statements were due from clients within two weeks.
5. Concept art planning and draft done within three days by us.
6. Second draft with photos is done in the second week.
7. Third week was all work on our side with amendments by the client.
8. Third and Final draft done and sent to print at the end of the 4th week.
The client was extremely grateful for the guiding hand and clarity I provided to help them get the report out within the deadline. The team were also less stressed and more productive mostly because each of them were in better control after the task delegation was provided and no overlapping took place. The job was completed with quality for a satisfied client.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how these can help me in my particular job because:
1. You’re in a different industry.
2. Not every question would be relevant for a job and…
3. How can I identify the same question which is just asked in a different way?
In order to help you further in finding all possible scenarios and answers for any job, You can simply do this.
i) Go to Google and type the following in the search box.
ii) Behavioral Interview Questions+(applied job position).
a) Behavioural Interview Questions+Accountant
b) Behavioural Interview Questions+Sales Executive
Google’s Search Engine will get you equipped with those questions that are relevant to the position you’re applying and the ones that are most likely to be posed. The likely answers are provided there as well. Choose a few sites and train yourself from the answers given there. Suffice to say, there’s a lot you can learn there and the variations are just too many.
You must also take notice that you don’t have to go into very detailed answers but just the necessary. Short and sweet answers are better than long winded ones. If you can keep them interested at this stage, you might get that second interview where you can go a little deeper.
While short and sweet responses are desired, the STAR method is one of the structures that can help you nail the interview answers. There’s no point in describing the Situation in detail but forgetting to highlight the Results. Similarly, there’s no benefit to be had if you explained how well it unfolded if you neglected to paint a clear picture of the Situation and the Actions you personally took to solve the problem.
In conclusion, start off by going through the questions and their responses on Google search. Have a friend interview you to polish up your responses. This exercise will help prepare you better while taking some of that anxiety off when you enter that room.