As an active recruiter (I am the owner of HIREghana, www.HIREgh.com ), my associates and I – we have frequently witnessed a lot of candidates complaining on ‘mishandling’ their job interviews whenever they asked to give an example or describe a situation giving a real- life example to convey their relevant experience(s).

There are possibly a lot of ways to address this situation, but the STAR technique might be the most ‘reliable’ and classic one.
What is STAR?
STAR stands for:

  • Situation (describe the situation that you were in)
  • Task (what was required of you/ what needed to be done?)
  • Action (what did you do exactly by yourself and what did you delegate to others?)
  • Results (what did you finally achieve?)

Thus STAR can be used -when applied properly- to provide all relevant answers to every skill/ competency questions during a job interview.

Please use STAR to provide clear and specific examples of all your relevant skills/ competencies which you have. Just make sure that you answer in a clear, concise and engaging manner, without forgetting to use the SMART way of describing your achieved measurable results.

Please also see image at the botton of this article. Thank you.
Tips on Using STAR
Star is of little use unless you can think of appropriate and really relevant examples from your own (and not form your team’s) experience.

Describing the situation, is about explaining the setting to the interviewer so what will you describe as a result will make sense to him/her. Be brief but very specific about what was the situation and what has caused it.
Many people struggle with giving a list of task that were needed to be done to resolve that situation. Don’t confuse this please this with the task-list on your Job Description. So, what was really your exact role in the given situation?
On the Actions part, these should be the things that you -and not your team- did to perform the mentioned tasks and the relevant how. That should also include any tools which you have used, e.g. a screwdriver or a spreadsheet. The more specific you are, the clearer your experience is perceived in the ‘eyes’ of the interviewer.

Make sure that your actions are reflecting / clearly showing off (if possible all of ) the necessary skills the future employer is looking for. For example, if you show how you make other team members get involved, that implies both the team- player the employer is searching for and also someone with good communication and negotiating skills; even possibly a future team leader!
The result does not have to be a positive result or a good one. Go ahead and talk about a ‘bad outcome’ as long as you can clearly explain why things went wrong, what you learnt from that situation/ experience (i.e. you are mature enough to develop ‘Best Practices‘) and what will you do differently the next time you were faced with that very same situation.

Results have to be SMART (google it please if you are not familiar with John Whitmore’s SMART model); otherwise, they have very little value for the interviewer and you can be simply seen as ‘lucky’ or someone who is not really ‘aware’ on how to structurally resolve and improve situations.

Think of results in the tune of “I saved the company an x- amount of money” or “increased sales by 20%” or “improved customer loyalty by 5%” or “setup system/ mechanism/methodology to process 1000 loan- applications per week“, etc..
Note to Interviewers/ Hiring Managers

Dear Interviewer/ Hiring Manager, you should expect the candidates to be able to relay their professional experiences to you, using the ‘STAR-way‘. These STAR- examples will help you in finding your next ‘shining star’- candidate to join your team.
In Conclusion
STAR is a simple – yet very powerful methodology to help you demonstrate all your relevant skills/ competencies to the interviewer, using real life example.

Prepare -yes, prepare- some good examples in advance, so that you would avoid been nervous during the interview having to recall an experience instantly and communicate it most efficiently.

Now that you have done your homework and you got some great examples to quote, go STAR that interview.
Good Luck + Happy Farmer’s Day, please.
Irene.

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