How to use the STAR method during interviews in 2021?

When we as candidates use the STAR method (Situation-Task-Action-Result) to deliver responses during an interview, all we think about is delivering the answers. However, in my honest opinion, the STAR method is primarily for the interviewer to take notes with a good flow and understanding. Thus, enabling the interviewer to reflect on the candidates’ responses after the interview when the entire candidate pool’s responses are collectively reviewed.

Let’s break down the STAR method to help you build a good rapport with the interviewer.

Situation

While it is irresistible to directly jump into the action-packed super-cool things we as candidates accomplished in our previous roles, it is always best to build common ground with the interviewer first. The next important thing is making sure the interviewer fully understands the context.

‘Building common ground’ is a skill, and we must practice it through mock interviews, practicing interviewer empathy, doing research, and learning about story-telling. While doing mock interviews with your friends, be both the interviewer and the interviewee, switch roles with your friends each time you practice.

I remember a story from one of Ameen Haque’s videos on YouTube.

There once was a blind homeless man begging on the streets with a signboard that said:

“I’m blind, please help.”

People hardly noticed him and nobody cared to offer him any money.

A lady who crossed the street saw the signboard and the man and changed the signboard’s wordings. All of a sudden, people started to notice him and offered him money.

The lady re-written the words on the signboard to:

“It’s a beautiful day, and I can’t see it.”

This is a beautiful example to understand the idea of ‘building common ground.’

“It’s a beautiful day” is the common ground between the blind homeless man and the rest of the people who are gifted with eyes and “I can’t see it” is a contrast statement that conveys his state of existence is different from others.

Now people could empathize with him and understand what he’s going through, which moves them to offer him some money.

Practice building common grounds before going to interviews and please be advised that this is not a trick. It comes through practice ONLY.

After you fully explain your story’s context/background, make sure to clarify whether the interviewer fully understands it. If you see a head-nod, you’re good to go.

Task

The ‘Task’ is where we need to be very careful because sometimes it will mix-match with the ‘Action’ part of the STAR method. The task is clearly the work was assigned to us OR the work that we decided to undertake during our experience OR it could also be an initiative taken by us.

The transition between Situation and Task should be seamless and well-connected.

Remember to keep building the common ground and make sure to keep your chain of thoughts intact. Also, watch out for the NDAs you signed in your previous workplaces. πŸ˜‰

Action

Alright! This is the cool part. The ‘Action’ is the necessary steps we took in our experience to achieve our goals from the given task. The ‘Action’ could be one or more of the following:

Initiatives + Approach + Strategy + Planning = EXECUTION

The ‘Action’ is directly related to the quality and work-style of the candidate (you+me). If we as candidates are aware that our actions had some flaws, it’s always good to address those to the interviewer after fully responding to the interviewer with the Results part.

You really don’t have to try making your actions into ideal statements. Just be honest. 

It helps.

Result

We might ignore this part of the story due to negligence. Without worrying about the nature of the outcome i.e Result (positive or negative), we should always speak to address what happened in the end. 

If you don’t know the results, estimate them. Please be realistic with your results. πŸ˜‰

Interviewers are waiting for the Results part for either one of the following reasons:

  1. Our responses were too long & boring and we are eating their time, so they just want us to end it.
  2. Our story was so awesome, and they are thrilled to know what happened in the end.

Let’s not end up like number 1.

Keep your responses short, crisp & to the point.

Lastly, try using resumepuppy.com to create resumes with ease and make sure your resume helps you in answering the interview questions with confidence. πŸ™‚

I wish you the best! 

Shravan.

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