The STAR Model to Interviewing

Interviewers often use behavioral and competency-based questions and interview techniques to explore the potential value of job candidates. An effective way to impress interviewers, and show them you're the best fit for the position, is to tell a story that showcases your skills, ability and achievement. Sharing a relevant, compelling story on the spot may seem like a daunting task, but you can do it, if you just remember the STAR model.

The STAR model is a simple, yet effective, method for interviewees to provide complete, concise answers to questions that require examples. A few examples of the types of questions that require examples include the following.

  • Describe the most difficult management experience you've encountered.
  • Give me an example of time that you were required to manage a team of diverse professionals.
  • Explain a time when you used a creative solution to address a difficult problem.
  • Please share with me an example of a time you were require to solve a dispute between co-workers.
  • Describe a time when you were required to demonstrate real leadership.
  • What is your management philosophy?
  • What is your strategy for developing effective teams?
  • How do you analyze complex problems?

STAR is as well known approach that is recognized by most interviewers and hiring managers. The STAR approach provides job candidates a way to structure their answers in a manner that the interviewer is going to be more receptive. STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and result.

  • Situation - Open your story with a brief description to provide context. The situation addresses the who, what, where, when and how. Be specific, provide necessary detail, don't provide a generalized description.
  • Task - After you've established the context, explain the task you tackled. Highlight the challenges and contraints you were faced with and what needed to be accomplished.
  • Action - Describe the action you took to complete the task. Keep the focus on you. Highlight the traits and skills (initiative, leadership, etc.) that enabled you to accomplish the task.
  • Result - Conclude your story with the results you achieved. What was the outcome? What did you learn? What did you accomplish. Be specific. If at all possible, use numbers and figures – and emphasize measurable (rather than subjective) results.

Another popular approach to responding to behavioral and compentency-based questions by employing job related experiences is the SHARE model. The SHARE model is similar to the STAR approach in that is offers candidates an effective format for showcasing job specific attributes and skills by sharing experiences and accomplishments during the job interview.

SHARE is an acronym that stands for situation, hinderance, action, results, and evaluate.

  • S – Situation; Introduce a specific situation to the interviewer
  • H – Hinderances; outline the challenges, contraints or hinderances you faced;
  • A – Action; describe the action(s) and steps you took to resolve the hinderance;
  • R – Results; outline the results or positive outcomes that came about due to your action(s);
  • E – Evaluate; evaluate for the interviewer what you gained from the experience and how it can be applied to their company or project.

Both the STAR or SHARE models are effective formats that can be employed to showcase relevant experience and communicate job specific skills to prospective employers during behavioral and compency-based job interviews. What's important is that you choose one model, familiarize yourself with it, and come to the interview prepared with a few relevant job-related experiences or stories to share.

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