Let’s face it. Interviews are tiresome and stressful and is rarely an enjoyable occasion. However, knowing what to expect when you go for an interview will ease some of your stress and ensure you’re ready for whatever the interviewer may throw at you.
Interviews tend to be very standardized, and all the interviewer needs to establish is whether you are a liable candidate. But we don’t accept “liable” as a form of criteria. We prefer the word “STAR”.
Most interviewers will use this principle in the interview, with or without you noticing it. It’s a very straight forward mechanism, allowing the interviewer to dig deep into very specific waters and acquire all information from you they will need.
This is where you as interviewee will need to specify a situation where you used a certain behavioural element in the workplace that will also be relevant in a future work position. This is generally the area where a problem arises and needs to be solved. For example: an angry customer complains to you about poor service delivery. This creates a situation where you will need to handle the customer a certain way in order to save the reputation of the company. It may not have been in your job description to deal with angry customers, in fact, it may have had nothing to do with you. But it could make a fabulous dragon-slaying story if you handled the situation anyway. The interviewer will state his or her question like this: “Tell me about a time when…” If you encounter this, remember that the STAR technique is now in play.
After stating the behavioural situation, you will need to continue explaining your dragon-slaying story. This is where you will capture the attention of the interviewer and you will need to maintain it, without getting distracted and sticking to the point. When specifying the task, you will need to define your task related to the situation. In other words, what were you expected to do about the situation. For example: After the angry customer complained, you had to deal with the cause of the customer’s distress. The interviewer’s job regarding the STAR technique is simply to put it in swing. It is therefore your responsibility to continue the story and decide for yourself when each category will move on to the next. This will ensure that it flows well and will create a good impression on the interviewer.
Now the interviewer is getting a pretty good idea of what transpired. The action aspect hold the climatic edge. Till now, the interviewer has been waiting in anticipation for you to reveal the most important part of the STAR technique: what you did to resolve the issue. For example: you handled the customer personally by delivering whichever service was needed to be delivered in the first place. On top of delivering the expected service, you added a free product or two for the customer’s inconvenience, uttering your utmost apology for her unpleasant experience. The importance is that you took it upon yourself to handle the situation this way, that you used your own logic to resolve the issue. Employers view a star candidate as one who will follow orders to the tee but who also isn’t afraid of taking matters into their own hands when the problem arises.
This is where you close off your story. You solved a problem, now what was the outcome of this? For example: the angry customer was satisfied with the way you handled the situation to the extent that you managed to save face and he or she will continue to use the company. Of course, the result will not always be positive. It really depends on the situation. But it is important for you to express your actions as the best you could have done in the situation and if the customer remained angry, it isn’t because of any fault of yours. The interviewer will also take this into account.
The STAR technique is therefore extremely effective if conducted correctly. It is crucial for you to remain specific during the interview. The interviewer isn’t interested in the colour of the angry customer’s hair or why her service delivery was insufficient. Your dragon-slaying story is all about you and how you saved the day, so keep the focus on your inputs only.
Good luck on your quest for new jobs and we truly hope you find value in the STAR technique.