Interviews can be overwhelming. Highlighting your strengths, admitting your weaknesses, and describing previous experiences while attempting to impress your employer can be a lot. With so much information to tell the interviewer, simplifying your answering approach can help. This is where the STAR format comes in handy.
The STAR format is most commonly used to answer behavioral interview questions. These questions ask you about your previous experiences so employers can predict how you may behave in the future & identify soft critical skills such as problem solving, perseverance, and teamwork. Examples of these include:
- Describe a time when you had to complete a project under a tight deadline.
- Give an example of a time that you received pushback from your manager and explain how you came to a compromise.
- Give your most recent example of using teamwork to solve a problem.
To answer these questions most effectively, use the 4 step STAR method mentioned below.
The first step of the STAR method is to set the scene of your experience. Identify the current role you were in at the time and a brief background of the situation. This event can be pulled from previous work experience, volunteering, university, or even a family matter.
As a building block to step 1, you now need to explain the task or challenge. Highlight the primary business goal of this assignment & why it was necessary at the time. Even though you want the interviewer to understand your situation fully, do not spend too much time on the first two steps as the most critical steps come up next.
This is the “meat” of your answer, where you explain the steps taken to achieve your task. Go into detail to explain the process you took, your thinking that drove this process, cross-functional teams you worked with, software that you use, etc. While explaining your actions, be sure be point out how your strengths are showcased and contributed to the final goal. Highlighting these strengths will make it easier for the interviewer to remember. Similarly, you can also mention any challenges or setbacks you struggled. Again, showing that you can overcome these obstacles will prove your perseverance.
Now it is time to brag. Showcase the end business result of your actions. Highlight key wins from your work and its importance. Try to add quantitative measures when applicable. Also, be sure to add what you learned from this experience to show your growth mindset thinking.
“Name a time you had to build something from the ground up,” using the STAR method helps you give a thorough, impressive answer like the one below:
- Situation: When I was hired as Ad Sales Director at the Johnsonian, the paper struggled to stay in weekly circulation with only $2,000 in ad sales during the first quarter of the year.
- Task: My goal was to bring in $20,000 in ad sales during the school year using various placements in the paper.
- Actions: I quickly realized that the outer back page was the perfect opportunity for ad space given its high visibility. The ad team had total control of this area; however, very few businesses were willing to participate, given its high costs. So as a solution, I turned this into a high engaging space with weekly games for students to play & sports schedules sponsored by businesses.
- Result: By dividing the sponsored sections, the advertising costs were more obtainable for local businesses while the paper generated higher total revenue. By the end of the spring semester, I reached the $20,000 goal that kept the paper circulating weekly. Additionally, one of my back page games won a state award for the most creative ad.
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