Ace difficult interviews using the STAR technique

07/02/2018 @ 11:39:00

The toughest interview questions are usually the ones where you’re asked to talk about a time where you were faced with a challenging situation. While the interviewer sits back, you’re expected to tell the ‘story’ of the problem, what you did about it and what happened. Common examples are:

Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge
Tell me about a time when you had to motivate somebody
Tell me about a time when you were faced with a difficult individual
Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge involving a team
Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement at work

Behavioural questions are extremely popular because your answers reveal your effectiveness at managing common workplace situations - the theory being that past performance predicts future performance. Sounds scary, doesn’t it.

The good news is that you can ace these questions by using the STAR Technique. STAR stands for SITUATION, TASK, ACTION and RESULT, and using it to plan your answers will ensure you include everything your interviewer wants to hear. 

SITUATION  - first you describe the problem

TASK - here you explain what you needed to achieve in that situation

ACTION  - now you talk about what you actually did, in detail

RESULT - finally, talk about the outcome, what you achieved and learned from the experience. 

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to think up and practise an answer for all the main scenarios i.e teams, individuals, disagreements and general workplace challenges. You can’t be sitting in an interview saying umm… when everyone else is prepared and word perfect. 

Expect to talk for at least 5-10 minutes on each question and also try to use recent examples of workplace situations - the interviewer does not want to hear about problems in your love life! Then find a friend (or your mum) to give you time and honest feedback…and practise, practise, practise.

Good luck.  


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