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Posted November 7, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Behavioral Interviews & The STAR Approach

Behavioral interviewing can be tricky and make you very uncomfortable if you do not know what to expect and are unprepared. Behavioral Interviewing is a technique employers use to determine whether you are a good fit for the job. This is accomplished by asking questions that pertain to your past behavior. The information gained through this technique is used as an indicator of your future success. In other words, the answers you give about your past experiences will be used to predict your future performance - if you did it before you could do it again!

A behavioral question will be very specific. For example when asked, "Tell me about a time when you solved a problem," the key words are "a time." Employers are looking for answers where you reflect on "specific" examples of "specific" incidents. You must have examples or stories for your answers and this is where your time spent preparing for the interview will give you a leg up on the competition.

Knowing what the "key competencies" for the type of job you are applying for is extremely helpful so that you know what kind of information to provide the interviewer with. You can find core competencies for specific job titles on www.onet.com, which provides detailed descriptions of hundreds of occupations. This website is also helpful when writing resumes.

Lets use the Core Competencies (CC) needed for a successful administrative assistant as an example:

(CC) Interaction with Others/Communication-
(Question) Tell me about a time when you had a difficult problem involving a co-worker?
(CC) Customer Service
(Question) Describe a time when you had an upset customer and how you resolved their problem...
(CC) Expertise/Continuous Learning-
(Question) Give me an example of a time you were assigned a task and were unsure of how to accurately complete that task
(CC) Resourcefulness/Results
(Question) Tell me about something you did that resulted in positive change...
(CC)Personal Accountability
(Question) Describe to me a time when you made a mistake...

These are some pretty tough questions to answer! By thinking ahead of time, strategizing about your previous experience in dealing with situations and by following the STAR approach you can formulate an answer that will tell the interviewer what they are asking for!

STAR Approach:

Situation or Task:
Describe the situation or task you are being asked about

Action you took to solve the problem:
Describe the action you took to complete the task or to solve a situation

Result you achieved:
Summarize the results that occurred as a direct result of you actions

Remember, a hiring manager wants to know how you handled things in the past because this is a good indicator on how you will handle similar situations in the future!

I will be the first to tell you, behavioral interview questions are tough! I highly recommend reaching websites that can assist you in formulating good answers. The Society of Human Resource Management - www.shrm.org- is one great source with a list of behavioral interview questions commonly asked. Another idea is to go to www.youtube.com and type in behavior interview questions. You can watch videos on the right and wrong ways to answer questions when faced with this interview method.

Our next Preparing for the Interview workshop is scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. I hope you will stop by!

Please feel free to contact me with your specific job related questions!
Kind regards-

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