At some point in our careers, I think many of us have been lulled into a false sense of security during an interview.
There we are giving ourselves a little pat on the back for our professional, yet friendly, small talk with the interview panel. Answering the first few questions easily and breathing a huge sigh of relief that it’s actually going a LOT better than we expected. Then, the dreaded question comes, “can you talk us through a time when you did X, Y, Z?”. Your mind goes completely blank and your hands suddenly feel all clammy again!
When it comes to acing tricky interviews questions, there’s a shining light to guide you…The STAR Technique! STAR stands for:
- Situation: Set the scene and describe when the situation took place
- Task: Explain the task and what your responsibility was
- Action: Explain the steps you took to achieve a result
- Result: Share the outcomes and results of your actions
Here are just a few examples of interview questions where you can use the STAR Technique. You can find more questions here.
- Tell me about a difficult decision you had to make at work. What did you do?
- How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?
- Tell me about a time you worked with another department on a joint project. What did you do?
- How would you handle a disgruntled or dissatisfied customer?
- Tell me about a time you failed. What lessons did you learn?
In this blog, I’d like to walk you through The STAR Technique and show you how it can be a powerful tool to have in your interview toolkit.
With a bit of practice and preparation, you’ll be breezing through your interview questions and showcasing your skills and experience with ease.
1. Find a relevant situation
First and foremost, you need to find a suitable situation to walk the interview panel through. There’s absolutely no harm in asking for a minute to compose yourself and to give the old grey matter a good trawling through until you find the perfect scenario. The last thing you want to do is jump straight in, tie yourself in knots and leave the hiring team completely baffled.
However, I would advise you to come to the interview prepared with a handful of situations that can be easily adapted to demonstrate different skills and outcomes. This will help you to find the perfect example far more quickly than you would otherwise. Don’t forget to use the job specification to understand exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate so you can make sure you’ve got relevant examples ready to use.
2. Set the scene
With your situation in mind, it’s now time for some scene setting. Just remember to keep your answer clear and concise. There’s no need to include lots of complexity, irrelevant information or ramble on about a back-story. Stick to the point!
3. Demonstrate your role
The story you’re telling is relevant because you had a part to play in it, so do make it clear what your role was and the actions you took. Where possible, add details, such as the process, software or system you used. Rather than just saying “I worked hard…” or “I looked up a bit of information…”. This will help to add credibility and showcase your experience.
4. Share your result
Now it’s time to finally shine and explain exactly the results you achieved. For example, you could highlight how much revenue you generated, a reduction in customer complaints or how quickly a project was delivered. Adding tangible benefits will be far more impressive than qualitative information.
5. The proof is in the pudding
Here’s an example of bringing it all together:
“Tell me about a time you worked with another department on a joint project. What did you do?”
Last year, whilst in my role as Project Manager at (company name), I was asked to develop a project initiation document to kick-start a £1 million project. I was working on the project with three other departments so I began by arranging a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders, explained to them what a project initiation document was and walked them through the process of completing it. We then began populating this important project document and created an action plan to complete the sections where we needed additional information. I ensured the actions were completed in a timely manner and the project initiation document was completed a week ahead of schedule.
Would you like to find out more about The STAR Technique?
For more information about how I can support you through the interview process, contact me to book a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation. It would also be great to connect with you on LinkedIn and Facebook!