Behavioural interview questions are very common in today’s workforce. These types of questions are great for the interviewer because it gives them a lot of information about the potential candidate. Many interviewers fear behavioural questions because they are open ended with no single best answer. There is a best approach to answering these questions though and that is with a simple approach known as "STAR." The STAR method will give you a step by step outline to frame your answer. It will ensure that you hit all of the key points to wow the hiring manager.
How To Use The STAR method
The STAR method is a simple and systematic approach to answering behavioural interview questions. It may take a little bit of practice, but answering questions in this way will set you up for success and win you that job! Follow the outline below anytime an interviewer asks a behavioural interview question.
S-Situation: Describe The Context Of Your Story
Describe the situation of your story. Be specific yet brief. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the situation. The situation doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional experience. It could be from a volunteer experience or even a personal experience as long as it is relevant to the question. What is important is that you set the stage and give the necessary background information required to answer the question.
If the behavioural interview question was “Tell me about a time you resolved a conflict in the workplace,” your ‘situation’ response would need to include details of the conflict and who was involved. “We had a team member who was consistently late to project meetings. Even when he did show up, he was unprepared. He was causing the entire team to miss deadlines. We did not have a team leader, and our boss was very upset that we could not meet our deliverables.”
T-Task: Explain What Was Required
Once you have set the stage and given the situation, you need to explain what the task was that needed performed. This is specific to your actions and your role in the problem. Do not focus on what others were tasked with.
“The team needed to address the situation because it was affecting everyone involved. Someone needed to step up and take action to resolve the conflict with our teammate. My manager asked if I would take the lead."
A – Action: Tell What Steps You Took
This is the part of the answer where you describe what you did to solve the problem. Break down your solution into steps if possible. Show that you were action oriented. Demonstrate your skill sets. Remember that you will be showing the interviewer how you respond to the situation by this part of the answer. Think it through before you respond.
“I stepped up to take the role of team leader. I approached the team member and explained in detail how his actions were affecting the rest of the team. I let him know what we needed out of him if he wanted to remain part of the team. I asked him to agree to meet his deadlines in the future and show respect by showing up to team meetings on time and prepared.”
R- Result: Describe What Happened As A Result Of Your Action.
What did you accomplish through your actions? Take credit for the result by tying it specifically back to your actions. The result is the most important part of the answer because it is the outcome of the problem and will show the interviewer that you can produce results. Make sure you focus on a positive result that resolves the original problem. The interviewer will be able to gather a lot of information about you through the outcome you were able to generate when faced with a problem.
“The team member was unaware that his actions had such a negative impact on the team. He did not understand the severity of missing project deadlines until I explained it to him. After our discussion, he promised to work to his schedule and attend all project meetings prepared and on time. He even asked that I help keep him on track in the future. Moving forward, he actually became one of the most productive members of the team.”
The STAR method will quickly guide you through the questions the interviewer asks and highlights your competencies and qualities. You will be able to showcase your relevant experience and skill set in a methodical manner. The STAR method is a tried and true method that will never let you down if used correctly.
Practice answering several typical behavioural interview questions before your interview. Write down your response to each piece of the STAR method. During your interview, take your time answering. Do not be afraid to sit and think a minute before answering. Feel free to write down a few keywords or notes too before beginning your response. Interviewers will not mind your preparation. Set up your outline and then follow through with the STAR method to knock your interview out of the park!
This is a guest post by Melissa Ricker. Melissa Ricker covers career strategy for JobHero, a site that provides free resume samples, career advice and more.