Behavioral Interviewing: How to Be a STAR!

Interview (Photo credit: smiling_da_vinci)

“Tell me about a time you solved a problem.”

An interviewer who has never uttered these words is simply missing an opportunity—and is only performing half an interview.

This question, and all the different ways it can be worded, is at the heart of the behavioral interview, and gets to root of a company’s current problem—finding the person who is a perfect fit for the company and its culture.

Behavioral interviewing is a structured process to determine if the candidate has both the character and work ethic required for a particular position.

Rarely focusing on the technical skills required for the job; the purpose of behavioral interviews is to be more of a matchmaker. Like in the dating world, behavioral interviews succeed best when they finding compatibility between the prospective employee and employer.

And just like dating, the consequences of a poor match in hiring can be frightening. A lousy hire wastes money, time and energy.

Think of the behavioral interview as a quest. It is the search for “soft skills,” the all-important set of skills that make the partnership between employer and employee a true collaboration:

For employers, the behavioral inter viewing begins long before a candidate walks through the door. To be effective, the company must know what skills are most needed for the job they are seeking to fill. This is true for the job seeker, as well.

Analysis for both employers and job seekers start by asking questions such as:

  • What are the basic skills to do this job?
  • What are they looking for in a successful candidate?
  • What traits make a candidate unsuccessful?
  • Why is the position open?
  • What are the biggest challenges of the job?

Once a meeting is scheduled, follow these basic rules:

Be accurate and specific. Develop at least two or three situations that can represent past performance. Remember, the organization’s goal is to find “past performance in a similar situation that is a predictor of future performance.”

The best answers can be organized through a STAR”strategy:

  • Situation/Task—the circumstances of the problem facing the candidate.
  • Action—what steps were taken to resolve the issue?
  • Result—the outcome of the action.

The three-step STAR system is the best way to frame experiences, responsibilities and accomplishments. Organize thoughts by S-T-A-R and candidates effectively convey the soft skills.

  • When answering, limit rambling. Remain focused on the question; be concise in retelling your story.
  • Listen and consider the question carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to rephrase the question for further clarification. When you answer, be sure to remember your past accomplishments in detail.
  • Practice ahead of time. It is difficult to make up behavioral stories, another reason that behavioral interviewing has become popular. With practice, you can easily recall past accomplishments.

Job seekers usually fail because they either don’t understand behavioral interviewing, or lack the preparation to provide employers an accurate estimate of their work ethic. Using the STAR system, a candidate has the tools to communicate how they will be a proper fit for the company’s corporate culture.

Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: Email: Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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