Behavioral Interview Questions are a very common part of most job interviews. These questions are based on the belief that by understanding your past actions and behaviors an employer can reasonably predict what your future actions will be. The employer is looking for patterns and trends in your behavior and then considering if they match up with the needs of the company and the specific role you are applying to. It is very important to provide well structured answers to these types of questions. To achieve this, we recommend the STAR technique.
What is the STAR Technique?
The STAR technique is a widely known and often used acronym that helps people develop a really great answer to any interview question in a logical format. It works exceptionally well for competency based or behavioural style interview questions.
S – Situation:
Describe the specific situation you were in or the task you needed to complete. This is where you set up the story but remember to be concise.
T – Task:
Specify the goal or measurable target you were working towards. You can highlight the key challenges the task presented here just make sure you are clear about the details.
A – Action:
Describe the specific actions you took to address the situation. This should be a detailed response focused on what you did not what the team did. It should showcase all your skills including soft skills and displays of emotional intelligence.
R – Result:
Clearly describe the outcome of your actions. What happened? How did things end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?
STAR Technique in Action:
Let’s consider the following behavioural interview question
Describe a time when you were project managing a team and the project was behind schedule. What did you do? What was the outcome?
1. Situation – Set up the context
At my last company I was the project leader in a team of 8 people developing the launch of a new product, a range extension of an existing brand we had into the market.
2. Task – Explain what you needed to do
The launch timing was critical as it coincided with an enormous sales and marketing campaign across the entire brand which represented a significant spend. The project fell behind schedule when a key team member responsible for volume forecasting became ill and his work was given to a coworker who was unfamiliar with the project. I needed to make any necessary changes to ensure that the launch date was met and the support expenditure was not wasted.
3. Action – Step through what you did and the skills you used to do it
I have led many project teams and very rarely does everything go according to plan. As such I am very comfortable guiding my team through the need to adapt to changing circumstances and developing the n implementing alternative plans of action. I began by calling a team meeting and explaining the change in circumstance to the team. by using a very open form of communication I was able to gain a commitment form the team that we would meet our original deadline. I volunteered to work closely with the new team member and work through the volume forecasts required. I then delegated some basic tasks I was managing to other members of the team and we all worked together to modify the timeline as required.
The new timeline meant that there were several late nights in the office for most of the team so I organised for dinner to be brought in to keep up morale and encourage a positive team spirit. I feel it is very important to recognise and reward significant effort especially during difficult times.
4. Result – Sum up the outcome and learnings
As a result, we were able to launch the line extension on time to coincide with the marketing campaign. The coordinated campaign resulted in an increase of x% in gross sales across the brand with the new line extension contributing $X and establishing x% market share.
The STAR technique is well known and appreciated among many employers because it delivers the necessary information to them in a structured way that they can easily asses. Use it well when you develop your interview answers and you will come across as a great candidate and really showcase your verbal communication skills.
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