Imagine you've just applied for a cool position at a prestigious company, and a few days later, you received an email saying that you got into the next process, which is the interview session. You realized this kind of opportunity could only happen "once in a lifetime," and it may open many doors in the future. So, you wonder, how I can ace this interview?
We've found that using the STAR method can be your way to respond efficiently in an interview, especially behavioral interviews. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results. Using this strategy aims to help you map the direct answers in response to a competency-focused question. Usually, employers seek an overview of how you behaved in the past and your soft skills, such as problem-solving skills, teamwork orientation, communication skills, etc. By asking questions about how you handle certain work situations, the interviewer determines how your past performance can predict your future competence. That makes sense, right? Let's begin breaking down the four fundamental concepts in the STAR acronym if you think it does.
Suppose your interviewer asks, "If you happen to receive three tasks at the same time and under a tight deadline, how would you handle this situation?"
Situation: The first step you need to describe while listening to the question is the specific event or situation. With context that occurs as above, you could start by saying, "When I happen to have a tight schedule, I would immediately check and look through my agenda..."
Task: Next, explain the task or responsibility you had to complete in that situation. You can also elaborate on why you do it by counting in your relevant past experiences with the context that occurs. For instance, “After that, I’d make a list of priorities by sorting which task is the easiest to the hardest. One day, someone told me that doing the easiest one can simplify the process and save more time…”
Action: Here, you can be more specific about the action you took to complete the task. Just focus on what you did instead of what anyone else did because it is about you. Perhaps you could say, “Also, notifying my coworker or direct supervisor the estimation of when I can complete the tasks as it reduces the “pressure” of being repeatedly bombarded by them. I guess it was okay for me to say, “Okay, let me get back to you in two days,” and as it turns out, my coworkers were able to understand and gave me time in peace...”
Result: Lastly, mention the outcomes or results accomplished by the action you’ve taken. Keep an active sentence to end a concrete answer. Such as, “I was then able to succeed under pressure, enhanced my communication, and it sort of became an organic routine."
If we were to combine the answers thoroughly, here is the following example answer:
“When I happen to have a tight schedule, I would immediately check and look through my plan. After that, I’d make a list of priorities by sorting which task is the easiest to the hardest. One day, someone told me that doing the easiest one can simplify the process and save more time. Also, notifying my coworker or direct supervisor of the estimated completion time when I can complete the tasks reduces the “pressure” of being repeatedly bombarded by them. I guess it was okay for me to say, “Okay, let me get back to you in two days.” and as it turns out, my coworkers were able to understand and gave me time in peace. I was then able to succeed under pressure, enhanced my communication, and it sort of became an organic routine.”
As you can see, the interviewer may find information about your communication and analytical skills through that answer. Or other examples may sound like this:
Question: “Could you tell me about a time when you were faced with a conflict while working on a team? How do you resolve it?”
Answer: “During my part-time at the previous company, I was having difficulties in connecting with one of my coworkers. When we were assigned to a project and had to do brainstorming, I felt some personality differences. I was more of a well-planned person, and he was more spontaneous. So, before there was tension raised, I gave some thought and decided to ask for other advice from my other coworker to get a bigger picture. Eventually, we came up with the idea of running the project with something we all agreed on. I was relieved to have an urge to reach for help at that time. Otherwise, I would probably hold grudges with my coworker."
Question: “Have you ever failed in something that you did? How do you deal with it, and what did you learn?”
Answer: “Yes, I have. It happened when I was handling one of my client’s social media platforms. I once received a reply tweet from an international artist that admired my client’s performance. I wasn’t aware that my client had performed together on the same stage as the international artist, so I replied that I didn’t know about it. The minute I knew I was replying to the wrong response, I immediately deleted the tweet without any discussion with my coworkers or my client. But it was too late since someone had captured it to make it viral. My client went all furious, and it was an embarrassment for me. I think I cried a bit, but I took the support that I got from my coworkers. Thankfully, they didn’t put more pressure on me. Instead, they reminded me that I should communicate better and not make self-decisions while working on a team. I was able to accept the mistake and learned to speak up whenever I feel clouded."
Remember, the key is to be as specific as possible. As we mentioned earlier, the interviewer determines your past performances as a predictor of your future behavior — whether you have the skills and experiences required for the job. Perhaps, you might not know the questions that you will face. Right after you apply for a job, we recommend you start preparing several relevant scenarios. Go back to the job description, and find a similarity between your experiences and job responsibilities. Think about how your experience aligns with this job. Now, here are a few quick tips for you:
Make sure your answers are relevant to the position or the job you’re applying to.
Never memorize a script! Keep it natural as you prepare for a few examples that follow the STAR method by checking out a list of common interview questions. (It’s totally ok to ask the interviewer for a minute if you’re feeling nervous or having a hard time coming up with an answer. It means that you’re in no rush, and they’ll appreciate your frankness.)
No need to go in-depth about your story. A straight to the point answer is what the interviewer’s want to hear.
Brag your story with what you’ve learned. Even if you don’t have any heroic story to tell, an interviewer would still be very interested in hearing what you’ve learned from your experiences that made you keep up to this point.
To summarize, the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method is a credible strategy for you in response to such behavioral interview questions. The goal to ace an interview using the STAR method is to have your answers structured, straight to the point, and ends with a definite conclusion. Practice makes perfect indeed, and hopefully, this blog post can ease your next interview! If you’re interested in finding more about the STAR method, job interviews, or career development in general, stay tuned for more blog posts and follow us on Instagram @ayureadypodcast.