PRACTICE THE STAR METHOD

You will likely encounter behavioral questions during your interview. These go beyond the standard “What are your 3 greatest strengths?” into questions like, “Tell me when you applied your 3 greatest strengths during a project.” In fact, “Give me an example when...” or “Tell me about a time when…” are the most common ways to start behavioral interview questions.

Why do interviewers ask these questions? Because the best way a hiring manager can know how you’re going to do in your future job is to inquire how you performed in a past experience. Your answers to these types of questions show credibly and thoroughly convey your skills and capabilities to the interviewer.

Sound intimidating? It shouldn’t, because you are simply telling a story about an experience! The best way to answer these kinds of questions and impress recruiters is to apply the STAR method. Each letter represents a step, as explained below.

S: SITUATION

  • First, describe the setting in which your example takes place. What were you doing? Who were you working with? What project were you working on? Example answer: “During my role as an Event Planning Intern this past summer, I supervised a group of 5 in order to host monthly events.”

T: TASK

  • Second, explain how the situation changed and how you were expected to address that change. What was the goal you were striving to accomplish, or the problem you were trying to solve? Example answer: “Upon reviewing annual reports, I noticed attendance had dropped 30% and I wanted to find a solution to this problem."

A: ACTION

  • Next, clarify the specific steps you took in order to address the task at hand and demonstrate skills you utilized in each of those steps. What did you do to solve the problem or reach the goal? Example answer: “I distributed surveys to gather feedback on our events and used this research to design a new, more effective promotional package using Software X.”

R: RESULT

  • Finally, explain how your actions contributed to the overall end product. How did the situation end? (Quantify results if possible.) What did you learn? Example answer: The company was able to utilize the promotional packet I created for future events. After implementing some of the new strategies developed from the feedback I gathered, we raised event attendance by 20% within the first year. I learned it’s important to continually adapt to strategies through marketing and research.”

It’s a good idea to formulate a STAR answer for a variety of questions. If the job description specifies skills a candidate should have, practice developing a STAR answer for examples surrounding those (for example: a company that stresses the importance of leadership will likely ask you to describe a time where you stepped into a leadership role).

EXAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS (some are behavioral)

Personal

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you choose to interview with our organization?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
  • Can you name some weaknesses?
  • Have you ever had any failures? What did you learn from them?
  • Of which three accomplishments are you most proud?

Experience

  • Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
  • How do you think a former supervisor would describe your work and attitude?
  • Give an example of a time in which you worked under deadline pressure.

Education

  • Why did you choose your major?
  • In which campus activities did you participate?
  • Do your grades accurately reflect your ability? Why or why not?

Career Goals

  • How do you feel about travel?
  • Give an example of a time where working with a team led to success.
  • Are you able to work on several assignments at once?