How to Nail Interviews Using the STAR Interview Technique

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Welcome to FasthireNg– the job board for entry-level and mid-level careers in Nigeria. This guide will teach you how to nail interviews using the STAR interview technique.

If you’re hearing about the STAR Technique for the first time, this is the most important article you’ll read today.

Hence, your responsibility after reading this is to start applying what you’ve learnt immediately. As a reward, you’ll begin to have better results in your interviews.

Also, we want you to make us a promise that you will share this post with at least one of your friend. Thank you in advance.

What is the STAR Interview Technique

STAR interview technique is a way of answering interview questions by highlighting specific situations (examples); explaining what was expected, what you did as a result of the expectation, and the outcome of your action.

The STAR interview technique is applied for the behavioural and situational type of interview questions and it’s an acronym for;

S– Situation

T– Task

A– Action

R– Result

Examples of Questions That Apply STAR Technique

  1. Describe a time when you worked as part of a team.
  2. Tell us a time you showcased leadership.
  3. Can you indicate a time when you applied innovation in creating results for your employer?
  4. What would you do if you don’t agree with your manager’s ideas?
  5. Describe a time when you were flexible in a work situation?
  6. Etc

How to Nail Interviews Using the STAR Interview Technique

This is how to process your answers when using the STAR technique;

Situation– Describe the situation you were in.

Task– Describe the task.

Action– Discuss the action(s) you and/or your other team members took. If you had challenges in the process, you can also mention it, and how you overcame the challenge.

Result- Summarize your answer with the result of the actions you took and how it affected the firm’s output.

Let’s consider an interview question and answer using the STAR technique;

Question 1

Tell us a time when you completed a difficult task on time.

Explanation:

The interview panel wants you to reference a real life situation and how you overcame it.

The reason for this type of question is to check your;

  1. Proactiveness.
  2. Ability to handle tough tasks.
  3. Obedience to company rules, ethics, and codes of conduct irrespective of the situation.

Hence, you need to encompass proactivity, obedience to rules, and speed in executing the given tasks in your answer.

Tip: Before you answer any interview question, you need to first understand the question, and then answer accordingly. Example, the reason for the question, what the interviewer wants to find out with the question etc.

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Answer- Using the STAR Technique

Situation

 In my previous job I was required to complete a difficult task while following company guidelines and a short brief.

Task-

The task involved carrying out an internal audit of products and services to assess the sales rate. This was required to identify the products and services that were working and the ones that were no longer working. The report was for an upcoming regional conference and to make the necessary products and services improvements.

Action-

For this task, I started my audit by collecting sales data for the last 3 years using an excel spreadsheet. I followed the brief carefully to ensure data accuracy.

Result-

The task was completed in time, and was presented to senior managers during the regional conference. Most importantly, the data was used to improve out-of-date products and, in turn, increase company turnover.

How to Master the STAR Interview Technique

If you want to master how to nail interviews using the STAR interview technique, you’ll need practice, specificity, and consistency.

Firstly, you have to dedicate time to learn how to tackle common interview questions using the STAR technique. Secondly, when answering interview questions using the STAR technique, you need to be specific with your answers. Refer to real-life situations, and explain how your actions impacted work outcome. Finally, be consistent with the technique. Don’t only feel pumped to use the technique during your initial interviews. Practice and consistency births mastery; therefore ensure you consciously stick to this method during your interviews.

Interview Questions and Answers Applying the STAR Technique

Question 2

Describe a situation where you had to improve the way you did something at work.

Situation-

I once dealt with an advanced customer’s complaint at work. Though it was successful, I was not comfortable with my approach as I felt I could improve. This led me to take a customer care course.

Task

 I was to complete an advanced customer care course via the African Learning Institute online learning platform. Hence, the goal was to improve my knowledge of customer care which would in turn; improve my effectiveness at work.

Action-

I created a learning plan to finish my course and take the examination in 3 weeks while attending to other daily assignments. As a result, my plan accommodated mandatory 2 hours learning daily for the next 3weeks.

Result-

 At the end of the 3 weeks, I successfully passed my online assessment, and received a certificate of completion. Consequently, there was improvement in the manner in which I handled customers’ needs; which was also beneficial to the company.

Tip: The STAR technique will help you come up with interview answers that are specific and straight to the point.

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Question 3

Describe a situation when you led a team to complete a difficult task.

Situation

 In my previous job, I led a small team of colleagues to complete a task that was forgotten by another team. The task needed urgent attention; hence we had to sacrifice our lunch break.

Task-

My team was responsible for creating a PowerPoint presentation for the manager based on previous website purchase trends. Our Manager needed the slides for a presentation with a senior management staff after lunch.

Action-

 We had 3 team members, so, I started by updating the team with the task at hand. Next, I allocated tasks based on team strengths. Whilst I was in charge of data collection and sorting, my other team members interpreted and created the PowerPoint slides. Finally, we created a brief for the manager and explained how he could effectively use the slides.

Result-

We were able to help our manager deliver the perfect presentation with little notification. This task also helped strengthen friendship amongst the 3 participants.

Note: From the examples presented, you can see how easy it is to nail interviews using the STAR interview technique.Because the STAR Technique presents a defined method of answering the questions.

Question 4

Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult situation.

Situation-

In my current job, I was faced with a tough customer care situation. An angry customer insisted that her complaint be resolved instantly or she was going to cause a scene.

Task-

 My job was to arrest the issue by; figuring out her pain point(s), the root cause of the problem, and resolve the situation to avoid escalation.

Action-

 Since the customer was not going to listen to anything I said unless her issue was resolved; I started by listening to her attentively and took notes of the main problems I could identify.

I waited until she was done talking before suggesting any solution.

Firstly, I apologized for the situation, and then reiterated some of the key problems I identified from her complaints. Secondly, I enquired from her if I was correct, she admitted that my observations were correct. Thirdly, I asked some more probing questions to get to the bottom of the situation of the complaint. Next, I explained how I was going to resolve the issue and how long it’ll would take. Finally, I proposed to call her daily and give her the progress report.

Result-

In 4 days, I was able to manage the situation and resolved the issue to her satisfaction. The customer was very happy with how I handled the situation and thanked me for my professionalism.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Hiring Manager looking for in an Interviewee?

Here’s a list of some of the things that employers look out for when interviewing a candidate.

1. Skills

2. Relate experiences

3. Example from work history and results

4. Educational qualification

5. Certifications/training

6. Trust

7. Likability

8. Genuineness

9. Differentiating factor

First Thing to Research When Preparing for an Interview

If you have an upcoming interview, what is the first thing you should do? If you said-practice interview questions, you are wrong.

The first thing you need to do when preparing for an interview is to find out the type of interview. For instance, is the interview being conducted by a recruitment agency or by the company’s hiring team?

This will determine;

  1. How you’ll prepare for the interview.
  2. The type of questions to prepare for, etc.

Tip: Companies use recruitment agencies for the first recruitment stage, then use their hiring team for the second interview.

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Difference between HR Interview and Hiring Manager Interview

Most times, people use the words recruiter, human resource manager, and hiring manager interchangeably. However, while they are all involved in the recruitment process, they perform complementary but different functions.

To understand, you need to first know the difference between the 3 terms.

Who is a Recruiting Manager

The Recruiting Manager is tasked with the responsibility of recommending a pool of suitable candidates for a position. S/he does this by using job boards and other employment sourcing systems.

A recruiter is not a staff of the hiring company; s/he is hired for the sole purpose of recruitment. For that reason, their contract usually ends when a successful candidate has been employed.

Who is a Human Resource Manager

Human resource managers serve as the bridge between a company management and its staff. They also oversee recruitment, planning, and management of the administrative functions in an organization.

In a recruitment process, the human resource manager is not necessarily grounded in the duties of the new hire(s). For that reason, their focus when conducting interviews is more on finding candidates that fit the company culture.

Therefore, your approach to the different interviews should be different.

Key Points

  • Recruiting managers are interested in finding candidates that are suitable for the position. What you need to do; is to highlight your expertise to show that you are qualified for the job. Once the recruitment managers perceive that you meet the requirements for the position, they’ll pass you to the next stage.
  • Human resource managers are interested in company culture, rules, regulations, etc. Position yourself as someone who fits the company style and you’ll ace any HR interview.
  • The hiring manager knows what he wants and what is required of the position. Go beyond what the job advert demands; show that you know the job, and you’re willing to go beyond job descriptions to offer effective solutions.

Conclusion

In other to be successful with your interviews, you need to first know the type of interview.

STAR interview technique is an effective way to nail interviews because it helps you develop a method to answer questions. This will save you from running out of what to say.

To master the STAR technique, you have to consciously put it into practice.

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