People are more educated, and the labor force has become more skilled than ever before. Because of this, hiring often comes down to the individual, and their personality fit within a company. The skills they have are the same as everyone else. Personality matters. Situational decisions matter. The trend for interviews in 2020 and beyond is how you handle yourself, how you present yourself, and how you communicate. The best way for interviewers to understand a candidate’s capacity in a given area is via a behavioral interview.
Behavioral interviewing allows for the hiring manager to understand your past behavior, translated through your experiences, and predict your future responses. Being able to effectively tell a story, demonstrate a point, and effectively communicate is crucial to nailing behavioral interview questions.
The best response method is STAR +R.
What was the situation? Provide a brief but complete set-up to your story. This should be about 30 seconds to two minutes of set up. Provide the details of the problem and the key players.
What needs to be done? Provide a concise description of what you / your team were asked to do and by whom. This can take anywhere from 15 seconds – 1 minute. This is usually the shortest part of your story.
What was done? What steps did you take? What interactions did you have? Depending on the question, this is the crucial portion of your behavioral interview answer. This should be the most extended portion of your story. Give a thoughtful response and take your time.
What was the impact? How does your story end? Even if there was a negative ending (e.g., you lost the contract, the client was still unhappy, etc.), always offer a positive spin to the conclusion. A phrase like, “under the circumstances, I thought we did our best” can help wrap up a story. Also, if the ending is really not in your favor, you can omit it as long as your response answers the question and is coherent.
You know when you’ve told a long story, and forgotten the purpose of telling it? That’s often what behavioral interview questions do to us. Especially because we’re under pressure and feel like everything we say and do is being scrutinized.
Wrapping up with the final, +R is my personal favorite and what ultimately packs the biggest punch.
What was the question being asked of you? Reiterate the interviewer’s question at the very end in a way that finalizes your story with a punch. +Reiterate helps you validate your response and impressively remember the point you were trying to convey.
The entirety of your response should take 2 – 7 minutes, depending on the complexity of the situation and your ability to explain it.
Remember to read the cues of who you’re telling the story to. They should be listening, nodding, and may even ask a couple of questions to help clarify your account.
Using the STAR +R method allows you to tell a complete story in a short amount of time. This should story demonstrate the tested ability the interviewer is asking about. Most questions will pertain to: time management, communication skills, complicated interactions, leadership, management, analytical process, and critical thinking.
When asked a behavioral interview question, remember STAR +R. If your unsure of your interview techniques or anxious about interviewing, I highly recommend finding an interview prep coach to assist in your STAR +R interview answers.