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How to Use the STAR Method to Ace Your Job Interview

The STAR method prepares individuals for circumstantial and behavioral interview questions. These questions can find you when you least expect and may come in a form you never expected. Hiring managers tactfully time this question and may bring it up just after you think you have done justice to the interview.

In most cases, the human resource officer will give a real-life situation and ask if you have been in a similar situation before. Or, he/she will go straight and ask for what you’d do when faced with a particular situation. In most cases, the question is twisted to test a particular quality in you.

I remember while interviewing for a cashier job at one of the leading hospitals in my country, I was asked what I’d do if I was serving a client then a VIP arrives, my office phone starts to ring and another client is inquiring about directions. At first, I wondered what answer I’d give. One of the hospital policies was VIP’s should receive special treatment and be treated as straight ins. I later came to find out the question was testing my ability to coordinate patient service, be a team player, and multitask.

The hiring manager sought to find out how I’d handle such challenging situations too. My answer was this, “I’d ask my colleague to take care of the VIP as I continue serving the client I was attending to. Meanwhile, I’d excuse myself and answer the phone call. For the customer asking for directions, I’d humbly request him/her to seek assistance from the security guard.” I could see the panel of five nod their heads in agreement. The fact that I finally landed the job was proof to me that I did well.

The STAR method offers a simple thought process for your utility. Hiring managers will come up with different forms of questions and that is why you must always be prepared on how to answer them. Below is the way out.

Situation

You have to be objective with the situation you’re giving or one given to you. Avoid giving unnecessary details that may reduce your chances rather than increase.

In my case, the hiring manager posed a question with a VIP, a client I’m currently serving, another one asking for directions and a phone call. All of them in need of urgent services. This describes my to-be job description (JD) and some of the challenges I would face as a cashier.

The fact that I had worked in a similar role in another leading hospital gave me the idea to come up with a solution in a minute. The hiring manager knowingly left out some information to see how creative or reliant on my colleagues I could be.

Rather than condense on my seat and coil my toes, this was a chance to prove my competence. Through my answer, the hiring team was convinced I had the experience to do the job and the creativity to tackle challenging situations.

Task

Remember you are coming in to fill a certain job description. The hiring team already know the roles you will play and the challenges you are likely to face in that position. Say you land the job; your daily task will be performing the work described on your JD.

As you give your practical solution, remember you’re being tested on the daily tasks you’ll be performing. Remember to only give needful information. Leave out details that do not describe your roles and only include facts about what you’d do when going the extra mile.

As a cashier, my role would be billing and customer care as well as answer inquiries regarding billing. By answering the question, I recognize my roles and give a picture of how I can perform the work effectively.

Actions or decisions taken

After giving the interviewer a clear view of your responsibilities, it’s time to talk about your actions. When you are asked what influenced your actions or decisions about your story? Remember; don’t address vague answers because all it does is limiting the chances of laying out a worthy story. Get into detail and ensure you give enough but not too much information. Mention all the actions or decisions you made as you tell your story. This will make your story trustworthy. Later on, after the interview is done such things as including action taken will increase the chances for a successful interview. The interviewer will rate you or rather your interview according to the way made a decision and the way you deliver the information about the actions taken.

Results achieved

Now that we are approaching the end of the interview, it is important to mention how you positively made a difference. This section is related to actions or decisions you made. Of course, you ought to include positive results about your decisions. There’s no point in telling the story if the results are negative. That’s just a minus to your interview ratings. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to tell stories about challenges or mistakes. It is vital to include at the end of your story how you took steps to improve after experiencing challenges.

Several candidates miss mentioning how their actions made an impact on the business or life in general. This is an important part to include in your response. Candidates often think interviewers just want to know what decisions you made. But it’s quite different. They also want to know why it mattered. So make sure you include the results achieved and how it benefited you in the long run.

Star method engages candidates to better alternatives of responding to behavioral interview questions. The technique might seem a little bit challenging but after consistent practicing, you’ll get the hang of it. Make practicing your priority and with no time your confidence will build up. When behavioral questions pop up you’ll be comfortable answering them. Before answering any situational or behavioral question take your time. Align your answers as shown above and the interview will be a simple experience for you. Apart from that, the relevance of your response to questions will determine how the interviewer will rate your interview. Keep using the Star method and practice to establish you as a competent and ready interviewee

Carl Wheatley — Product Design Recruiter / Coach

Carl is a Product Design recruiter at Facebook. Before recruiting, he was a UI/UX designer working with many tech startups to design mobile apps. Carl is also the co-founder of a Meetup called Global UXD where he helps connect designers with each other and create new opportunities. Having completed Bloc and Designlab bootcamps before becoming a recruiter, he’s an expert at helping designers land their first design roles. Find Carl on carlwheatley.com and LinkedIn. Need your Design Portfolio Reviewed?? Check out Design Portfolio Review.

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