Behavioral interviewing is a technique employed by interviewers to evaluate your past behavior in order to predict your future behavior in a particular situation.
Answering behavioral questions is not an easy task, but proper preparation will assist you in answering them successfully. Utilizing the S.T.A.R. Method will help you construct an organized, specific, thoughtful, and concise answer.
- Think of a situation in which you were involved that had a positive outcome.
- Describe the tasks involved in the situation.
- Specify what actions you took in the situation to complete the tasks and achieve your results.
- What results followed due to your actions?
Use the following guidelines to enable this effective strategy:
- Analyze the position for which you are being interviewed and determine what skills are required.
- Evaluate and reflect upon your background to identify your skills and experiences related to the position. Think about your experiences and skills gained in class, internships, leadership positions, and activities and relate them to the skill sets required by the position for which you are interviewing.
- Identify three to five top selling points—attributes that set you apart from other candidates—and be sure to take the opportunity to point them out during the interview using “S.T.A.R. Stories.”
- Create brief “S.T.A.R. Stories” prior to the interview that demonstrates your teamwork abilities, initiative, planning, leadership, commitment, and problem-solving skills. Try to be as relevant as possible to the position. Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were different than expected.
- Practice your stories, but be careful not to memorize as you may forget nuances of your story when in a pressure situation. Reviewing them before your interview will give you confidence in knowing you are prepared and will eliminate fumbling for words and awkward silences in the interview.
- Be specific in your stories. Giving generalizations will not help the employer understand and evaluate your behavior and skills. Employers want to know what you did rather than what you would do in a given situation.
- Quantify wherever possible. It is evidence of your achievements, accomplishments, and efforts.
- Be honest! Omitting or embellishing parts of your story could lead to disaster if the interviewer discovers that the foundation of your story is weak.
In using this strategy, you will be able to showcase your accomplishments, skills, and knowledge and show the employer what a S.T.A.R. you are!
The following example shows how you might use the S.T.A.R. Method to answer this behavioral interview question.
You indicated on your resume that leadership is one of your strengths. Please describe an experience in which you used your leadership abilities
During my third year of college, I was elected Vice President for Professional Programs for my student association. The duties of the position included securing speakers for our meetings, advertising the programs to the campus community, introducing speakers, and evaluating each program.
Previous attendance at meetings had decreased substantially due to a decrease in the overall student population. The goal was to implement programs to address the professional development of our association and increase attendance by 25% compared to the prior year's figures.
I assembled a team to help with the program design and speaker selection. I developed a survey to determine the members' professional interests and ideas for possible speakers and topics. My team and I had each member complete the survey. Then we randomly selected members for a focus group interview. I had learned about this research technique in my marketing class and thought it would help us identify why attendance had dropped.
Because of the information we gathered from the surveys and interviews, we selected speakers for the entire year, produced a brochure describing each program and the featured speaker. Under my leadership, attendance increased 150% over the previous year.