S.T.A.R. In Your Interview

Be an Interview Star

How many times have you been on an interview and an employer has asked you a question that begins with something like “Give me an example when you had a difficult time with a customer how did you manage it?”  Or maybe the question sounded something like “Describe a time when you applied effective time management.”    These questions are behavioral based and the premise is that if you can provide concrete specific examples of how you addressed  past challenges that will give employers some insight on your performance in the future.   The key to a successful response is to use S.T.A.R.   This stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.

  • Situation- Describe the Situation.
  • Task- What problem did you face?
  • Action- How did you address the problem? .
  • Result- What was the result of your action?  .

Responders tend to be  very vague however interviewers want something specific.

Take a look at the responses in bold below to a question about dealing with difficult customers:

SITUATION –  What problem did you face?- As a server in a restaurant I had an issue with a customer who came in an ordered a meal .

TASK-  What problem did you face?- When I brought the meal out it was not prepared according to her specifications. The customer was irrate and she began to state that she would never return to the restaurant.  I sent it back to the kitchen and her meal was incorrectly prepared a second time. The customer was very upset. I did my best to calm her down and apologized for the mistake. I offered to try once more but she declined and agreed to eat the meal.

ACTION-  How did you address the problem? I realized the customer was upset and that the error was our fault so I asked my manager if I could provide her with a gift card to apologizee for our error and to encourage her to return to the restaurant. My manager agreed so I presented her with the gift card.

RESULT –  What was the result of your action?  The customer returned at another time and she actually requested me to be her server. She apologized for her past behavior stating that she was having a bad day at the time of her last visit.  I took special care during her second visit to ensure that  we got her order perfect and it was.  She also used her gift card to pay for her meal.

So next time you are asked for an example or to describe a stituation when something happened remember to use the STAR techique to answer the questions. What are some common behavioral-based interview questions that you’ve encountered?  Please share so that we can discuss the a great response.

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