The STAR Job Interview Technique

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon with high school students who are planning, preparing, and building a resume and portfolio for college admissions, after graduation, and into for the future  professional working world.  The format was free flowing.  They asked questions,  I asked questions.  We both answered. This task reminded why I started blogging in the first place.  In 2007, I set out to help change the world and educate the job seeker on the unwritten rules of the job search one blog at a time.  Today, I was inspired.

The STAR Interview Technique: Interview Questions and Answers

One of the blog posts I shared with the students was one of my very first blog posts about an effective interview technique called the STAR method.  So whether it’s for college admission interviews, internships, or job interviews, the STAR interview technique can help organize and focus the interview question and answer process.

The STAR interview technique is a sure fire way to ace the interview every time.

  • S stands for Situation
  • T for Task
  • A for Action
  • R for Result

The STAR interview technique works like this: when asked an interview question, you begin by describing the Situation or Task first. The next step is by explaining the Action involved or steps you took to meet your goal or accomplish a task. Finally, you provide the interviewer with the Result which can include your success, failure, or lessons learning. I suggest sticking to the successes and wow them with the lessons learned. Keep that interview positive!

Tips for an Interview: Putting the STAR Interview Technique to Work

Preparing for an interview is easy with the STAR interview technique. The key is providing an answer to the interview question that relates to the position you are interviewing for. Do some research prior to the interview about the company and the position requirements. Keep a log or journal of the positions and their qualifications you have applied for. You will want to highlight the important skills and qualifications the company listed for the position using the STAR technique. This is extremely important. You wouldn’t talk about your experience with accounts payable reconciliation if the position was a Lab Technician would you?

Interview Question and Answer: Example of the STAR Method

“Tell me about a time when you faced a situation where you exceed expectations.”

Situation/Task

I was responsible for creating a marketing plan for a United Way fundraising campaign at my office for 300 employees. Our goal was to have 45% participation for the event and raise over $25,000 in donations.

Action

I worked with my United Way representative regarding best practices and researched information about other successful campaigns at different businesses in our geographic region. Additionally, I created a United Way committee that met bi-monthly starting three months prior to the campaign and developed a marketing campaign that included fliers, emails, table tents, and a companywide kickoff meeting. We worked together to create a fun and exciting campaign with the help of our local United Way.

Result

The result was that the  campaign exceeded our expectations. My company raised over $37,000 and had a participation rate of 51%! We were recognized at the annual United Way banquet for our efforts and received an award for the small to medium size business category. What I learned from the campaign was the importance of planning and utilizing your resources. Several employees on the committee had served in similar positions and were one of the keys to our success.

Prepare for an Interview Using the STAR Interview Technique

I suggest using the STAR method for common interview questions that begins with, “Tell me about a time” or “Give me an example.” It’s the best way to stay on track during the interview, not lose focus, or ramble which trust me, happens all too often. I suggest preparing for the interview by coming up with 3 or 4 STAR examples. Come up with the interview questions and answers, then practice these with a friend or tape record yourself and listen. Make changes to your presentation as needed and feel confident. You’ll be amazed. All sales and marketing professionals have a script from which they use to perfect their sales pitch and technique. Your interview should be no different especially given all the work you’ve gone getting their attention with your billboard-resume, cover letter, and emails. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.  Searching for a job is a full time job and interview preparation is key. You wouldn’t blindly take a midterm exam without studying or buy a car without doing some sort of research either online or using consumer reports, would you?

Be sure to check out another great blog post I wrote in 2007 outlining illegal interview questions companies can’t ask.

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Comments

  1. Facing the employers and having an eye contact while answering their out of this world questions makes my knees weak and my voice rattled. But now, thanks to this post, I will surely apply it.

    Reply
  2. Hi Jessica,

    I came across your blog and was very impressed! I work for Mediabistro, a website that publishes blogs, jobs, and events for media professionals. How are you?

    I am interested in working with you as part of our affiliate program. On January 29, we will begin our online “Job Search Intensive”, a 4-week online conference and workshop designed to prepare, provide guidance, and offer support for job seekers and career jumpers. Learn more: http://www.mediabistro.com/jobsearchintensive

    The online event features weekly webcasts with keynote speakers, chat forums for participants to meet and share resources, and assignments that will provide each person with tangible work they can use on interviews or when applying (i.e. a revamped resume). Our early rate deadline (only $85) ends on Tuesday, January 8. After that, the price will increase to $145.

    I was wondering if we could possibly do a guest blog post about the program for your readers.

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    Melanie A.

    Reply

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