How to handle Behavioral Questions effectively in a Job Interview using the STAR Method
From a bird’s eye perspective the actual interview is usually made up of 3 parts the introduction, the body and the conclusion.
The introduction portion is vital, creates the first impression, consists of ice breakers and paves the way to a better and more meaningful conversations in the Interview body.
In the introduction part you are in the driver’s seat, the interviewer usually asks the Interviewee for a “tell me something about yourself monologue” with occasional questions in between usually to break in and disrupt your flow.
This is where your Elevator pitch in used.
After the introduction, comes the body. This is where the Interviewer takes control. The Interviewer now using the information provided in the Introduction and your resume will try to extract from you the truth about what has been mentioned in your resume.
The objective of the Body part of the interview is to get into the details on your experience. Test your skills and most importantly how you’ve applied them in your career or workplace.
One of the best ways for an interviewer to get that information out is to ask technical and behavioral based interview questions.
Examples of Behavioral based Interview Questions are:
- While you were working at ACME Corp, give me an example of a situation where you had to manage an Irate customer and how did you effectively handle that customer to get a positive outcome.
- Give me an example of a project that didn’t go as planned and how did you an a project manager handle the situation with the client and internal stakeholders.
- Managing a team of 10 analysts can be hard, give me an example of a situation where there was a conflict between two of your team members, how did you as their manager facilitate in conflict resolution and bringing the situation under control.
The STAR method is a proven, structured way of effectively getting through the Behavioral based Interview questions.
STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action and Result
Based on the interviewer’s question specify the situation you were in, you must select and prepare possible situations in advance, do not give a generalized response, to answer a behavioral question effectively its best to describe the situation from your actual work experience and provide specific information from your resume like the company, your title and mention the situation succinctly.
Knowing the STAR technique will help you to select a situation where you were able to shine, chose a situation wisely, it should be favorable to you and to be effective it must showcase you in good light.
Usually the Interviewer will expect based on the position you’re applying for that most likely you would’ve been through that situation. And the job might demand that a person should have the ability to face such situations.
Once you’ve explained the situation, you’re next step is to explain your task which is actually the goal you’re trying to work towards. Keep it short, crisp and to the point. The context should be that the task corresponds to the action you’re about to do.
This is your place to shine, this is where you apply your experience, education, technical and/or soft skills to obtain your goal.
The focus should be on YOU and not on the general team effort, You are the one applying for the job not your team or your colleague, the spotlight is on you, use “I” instead of “We”.
This is where you describe the action YOU took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail. Describe the steps you took, what was your contribution to get the problem resolved and to achieve the desired outcome.
Once you’re done explaining and listing your actions. This is the part where you can highlight the result of your actions, don’t hold back on taking credit for your actions, be subtle yet sublime with your praise for yourself.
Here you can also mention how the team benefited from your action, how the company benefited, what was the impact of your action on the client, company profits, people morale, your relationship with your colleagues and the list goes on.
Mention how the event ended, what happened, what did you accomplish and learn. This is the climax, it should have a happy ending, you can also mention multiple positive results to build your case and make it stronger.
This is usually one of the favorite portions of the interview from the Interviewers perspective and using the STAR technique you can convert this to your advantage.
Preparing for the Body of the Interview with your answers to Behavioral questions is vital. Behavioral questions are asked primarily to judge the candidates soft skills. This is where you must deep dive into your memory and pull out information from your experience that you could use and frame within the STAR method.
For those who don’t have relevant work experience this is where you can be creative. Use whatever scenarios you can think of in the context of your academic life, your work in temporary jobs, summer jobs, work as a volunteer or even personal life examples live the time you organized a party or helped in the social cause. Be creative, think and be prepared.