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5 ways to ace an interview like a STAR

Regardless of the industry that you are in, job interviews will always involve behavioural questions. Beyond your qualifications, potential employers will want to know that you can apply your knowledge to a real situation so that they can feel confident in your abilities.

Employers will ask questions regarding times where you had to problem solve and apply skills.

The response you give to these questions is crucial. If you fail to show practical skills or use relevant examples, you could lose your dream job to someone else who simply knew how to better answer the question.

Whilst you can never be prepared for the all of the questions an interviewer can ask, preparing a formula ahead of time can save you the on-the-spot panic that comes with being taken off guard.

One of the most tried and proven interview tactics is the STAR behavioural response method. A common question is, “Tell me about a time when you’ve had to take leadership of a team.” Here’s how to use it to help you score your dream job:

S – Situation

After you have thought about what situation you would like to talk use as an example, begin to think about the context and background of the situation. Where were you? What was your professional role? When did the scenario occur? Set the scene for your story.

“I was a second in charge at an RSL club that I worked in. The first in charge received an urgent phone call and had to leave work immediately. Not long after, a drunk customer stumbled inside and began to complain that our last casino competition was rigged, claiming that my first in charge manager and I had cheated.”

T – task

Next, explain what was required of you as a result of the situation. What was the challenge? What were the expectations? Did you choose to take on the responsibility that was not required of your role?

“As my manager was not present, I had to find a way to diffuse the situation immediately, when I had never had to do so before. It was necessary to find a way to get the man to leave without causing a scene.”

A – Action

Then, it is necessary to explain what action you took in response to the situation and why. Elaborate on the specific action, and what tools or strategies you employed.

“I called upon the supervisor for that area of the club and informed them of the situation and asked them to get a security guard and bring them to the area. In the meantime, I approached the drunk customer and asked him politely to calm down. When he did not respond to my attempts to get him a glass of water and sit down, I lead him towards the front door as I calmly explained to him that he had to leave.”

R – Result

Finally, it is important to explain how the situation was resolved as a result of your actions. Why was this an accomplishment, did someone recognise the success of your actions? Was there a tangible result or reward?

“By the time he realised he was at the front door, the security guard escorted him out, avoiding conflict. My first in charge came back and was really pleased, he said he has never managed to get that particular customer out of the club without causing a scene. I was put forward for a promotion a month later.”

The key to this method is to be specific, rather than general. The best kind of scenario that you can choose is one where there was a tangible reward or quantifiable result of your actions. If you can name other people that you worked together with throughout the process, this is a bonus as well. Finish on a positive note by explaining how the situation began, and how it was resolved or improved after your involvement.

At the end of the day, the best way to learn how to interview is by practising. Brainstorm ideas of questions you could be asked. It may be helpful to think about what you would ask someone in your position if you were interviewing them for the job. The more you attend job interviews within your industry, the more that you will get a feel for the types of questions that you will be asked. As you begin to practise your responses, you will be able to sense how the interviewer reacts to your answers, and adjust them accordingly.
WORDS BY CYNDALL MCINERNEY If you need personalised advice for job applications and the interview process within your industry, why not sign up to the PropellHer mentoring program? Arrange online meetings with your Mentor to work through the process of job applications.

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