Introducing the STAR Interviewing Technique and Why It’s Key


No matter how much experience you have interviewing for jobs, it can still be a challenge. Most interviews no longer simply consist of questions relating to your work history and self-assessed greatest strengths. Many companies are incorporating behavioral interviewing to assess your core competencies and strengths by asking open-ended questions. These types of questions are best answered using the STAR interviewing technique. Not only does familiarity with this technique help you feel confident in your answer, it also clearly portrays your skills and qualifications to the recruiter. Learn about the STAR technique and how to improve your interviewing skills by incorporating it.

What Is STAR?
Most behavioral interview questions require a response in the form of a story highlighting your assessment skills, thought processes, actions, and results. While questions will vary between employers, you can prepare for these types of questions by having an arsenal of prepared example stories from your past that you can tailor to fit the job requirements and the exact question asked. When you practice your story, think in terms of the STAR acronym and become familiar with how to address each section. This is what STAR stands for:

● S – Situation
● T – Task
● A – Action
● R – Result

Not only does the STAR interviewing method give you a step-by-step way to organize and relate your experience and success, it can also help you remain calm and confident during an interview. When you’re asked a behavioral question, you can remember the acronym and structure your response accordingly.

This is your chance to set the stage for the rest of your story. Focus on the necessary details rather than rambling on about irrelevant facts. Here is a sample question: “How would you handle a high-priority project with a short deadline?” Your response should be a story from your past about how you successfully handled a similar situation. Begin by setting the stage: “When I was working for a start-up, the initial project from our first national client had a two-week deadline. I was asked to lead the team.” This response is memorable and intriguing and creates an opportunity for you to highlight your skills.

This is where you should use your story to show your assessment and critical thinking skills. You’ve set the stage with the situation, so now make a clear statement showing you understood the problem and the task required to solve it. Continuing the previous example, you could say, “I knew the key was delegating a part of the project to the team member with the most relevant experience. I also needed to make sure each person was working toward the overall goal of meeting the client’s requirements.”

Here is the part of the story where you describe the actions you took and indicate the skills and talents you displayed. “I used my organizational skills to create a detailed two-week timeline for the team to follow. I also made it a priority to review each team member’s qualifications before determining which portions of the work should be given to which employees. I was able to communicate each piece of the project to the responsible team member clearly and use the timeline to ensure all work was completed on time.”

The results portion of your response may be the most significant. This is your chance to show the impact of your assessment, decisions, and actions. The goal is to show your interviewer how he or she could count on you to achieve positive results in the position for which you are interviewing. Make sure your answer highlights your success, and include numerical data when possible. To complete the example: “My team met every one of the client’s requirements to their satisfaction within the deadline and secured an exclusive six-month contract for further work.” This wraps up your story nicely while highlighting your success in a quantifiable way.

Behavioral questions can feel intimidating, but the STAR interviewing technique can help you answer in a concise and positive way. Use this acronym to build stories of your work experiences to highlight your talents and qualifications in a memorable way.

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