tell me about a time when…

The office tv GIF on GIFER - by MazubeiThe hiring manager is impressed with your resume and you did well enough on the Zoom prescreen interview that the company wants to bring you in for an in-person meeting. You depart early and arrive on time.  You remembered to bring extra copies of your resume and are prepared to take notes. The interview starts off with some friendly small talk and then the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time when…” Your heart stops and you feel panic start to creep in. You make an attempt at a good answer but you know you’re stumbling. Take comfort: it never has to happen again. Next time you’ll prepare using the STAR interview method.

The STAR interview technique provides you with a very simple format for responding to behavioral interview questions asking for examples from your experience that demonstrate how you handled a challenging situation in the past.

Behavioral interview questions can take the form of:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • What do you do when…
  • Have you ever…
  • Give me an example of…

STAR is an acronym that stands for:

  1. Situation
  2. Tasks
  3. Actions
  4. Results

When you have that your skills and abilities are valuable to potential employers, you must provide stories to support how you’ve applied them successfully. Stories are made up of your achievements, awards, recognitions, and contributions. When you engage interviewers with performance storytelling (stories that are relevant, powerful, entertaining, and informative), you give yourself an advantage over other candidates. Use this template to prepare STAR stories to use in your interview:

Situation: Identify a work challenge you’ve encountered or if you’re a recent grad a problem you experienced in the community, during an internship or in volunteer experience.

Task: Describe your responsibility or role in the situation or challenge.

Action: Explain the specific actions you took to handle the situation or overcome the challenge. This is key because it gives the interviewer insight into your fitness for a role.

Results: What was the outcome you reached through your actions? Quantify it, if possible.

Write down multiple examples using the STAR method. Rehearse them until you can present them without looking at your notes so they sound natural and spontaneous to the interviewer.

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