The STAR Method for answering interview questions
Going to an interview can be an incredibly stressful experience if you do not prepare adequately. The interviewer will have a selection of specific questions to ask you that will be used to find out about previous experiences you have had that you can recall and use within their company, such as "How have you managed to succeed in stressful situations in your previous employment?" or "Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and what you did to rectify it?" this are just two potential options for them to ask so it is good practice to have four or five answers prepared and rehearsed for all circumstances.
STAR is the acronym for a format of answering these potentially challenging questions.
- S- Situation
- T- Task
- A- Action
- R- Result
Keeping the answer to these questions concise and easy to follow is critical to its success, we advise this technique should only take you 3 minutes to answer the question.
We will be using the question "How did you manage a potential stressful situation in your last employment" as the case study for this blog entry so you can see how it can be answered in a way that you can adapt your prepared answers to fit multiple questions.
"Whilst in my previous employment we faced a difficult situation were during a particularly big project we had a large proportion of the team go down with illness, with the project in a crucial period there was no way of us delaying it in order for us to wait for them to get healthy again."
Explain the situation you faced briefly and then move onto the task. This is the time to go into some more details as to what the larger problem was at the time.
"The team has agreed to a pre-arranged deadline with the client and significant budget had been allocated to the project already, so this meant we had to push ahead and work without the full team to reach the deadline with the project fully completed."
Explaining the difficulties of the situation you faced but do not go into what you did to combat it just yet, this happens during your action phase of answering. This is the most detailed part of your answer and should be structured to make it plain and obvious what was your part in the situation as whole and what you actually did to manage the situation.
"Knowing we had to complete the project even without the full team at our disposal we re-evaluated the workload and came up with a new plan as to how manage with the smaller team. With my previous experiences at university as a varsity captain I put myself forward to lead the team whilst our original manager was off sick, this allowed me to use my personable skills and leadership traits to guide the team forward whilst also managing to complete my work to keep the project moving forward towards being complete without needing a possible extension to the deadline."
Once you have explained your actions you need to wrap up the answer with what results came from your actions and how they were successful in this scenario.
"Under my leadership, we as a team managed to complete the project to the original deadline and the client was impressed with the work and later agreed to sign up to further work with the company. As recognition for me stepping up into the leadership role I was awarded with a new position as a team leader which gave me further responsibilities."
This answer offers you a few different options in answering the question to show you have different skills. The answer above shows your ability to delegate and lead a team as well as your ability to work under pressure. Having a few of these answers prepared will mean any question presented to you can be answered effectively.
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