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.
How do you talk about nothing
One of my greatest challenges is when I encounter a job searcher or student that doesn’t have much on their resume. They’ve spent their time going to work or getting through school and have paid little attention to developing other aspects of their lives. Employers want people with skills, knowledge and abilities. Work experience and school are not the only opportunities to enrich yourself in these areas. Get involved in local charities or organizations. Volunteer and become members of professional groups. You can add value to your self and you’ll have something interesting information to include in your resume. Spend some time looking at your resume. What does it reflect? What can you add to make yourself more appealing? Is it a new skill, professional membership, language proficiency, training course, challenging project or something else? If you find that you are lacking in areas to add to your resume that means you need to get work. It is really difficult to edit or create a resume if you have limited information to add. Get something to add to your resume. This will make you more valuable and ultimately lead to interesting discussions during the interview.
Think in terms of semesters, not years
Four years sounds like a long time. 8 semesters sounds far more fleeting. 8 semesters give or take one or two additional semesters is the amount of time that the majority of college students have. You want to spend this time creating experiences for yourself that you can add to your resume and discuss during the job interview. There are far too many activities, clubs and programs at most schools for you to spend that time just going to class. It is your responsibility to use that time wisely. In many ways that means you will develop yourself holistically into a candidate that employers will want to hire. Dont’ waste time by thinking that you have alot of time. You will learn soon that those 8 semesters go by very quickly. Spend the time you do have getting most of your college experience. This means getting involved in ways that are meaningful.
It is up to you
No one is going to give you chance. Employers don’t have the luxury of giving out chances when there are so many qualified candidates who can actually perform the essential functions of their jobs. With so many people with the knowledge, skills and abilities to work why should someone give YOU a chance? As if people are in business to give out chances, no most people are in business to generate revenue and that is not done by taking pity on the under qualified and giving them a chance. Your goal as a worker in this economy is to ensure that you remain abreast with the demands of the job market in order to equip yourself with the knowledge, skills and abilities employers find valuable. Rather than focusing on people giving you a chance, give your attention to what you have to offer that will contribute to the productivity of an organization. If you discover that you are sorely lacking in knowledge, skills and abilities that would be valuable in the contemporary market place take on the task of training your self to improve your marketability.
I know it may seem premature but if you have a child enrolling in or returning to a college or university this fall please encourage them to begin thinking about their careers while they are still in school. Many people mistakenly believe the time to seek full time employment is when the child graduates however for many students that may be too late. Employers typically want students with structured internship experience. These experiences are often acquired while the student is studying. It is imperative to your child’s career development that you engage them early in their college career about occupations they would like to pursue and skills knowlege and abilities required.
Ask your student the following questions to prompt a converstion or get them to begining thinking about their potential careers:
1. In what industry do you have an interest? ( An industry is a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service. For example retail, banking, health care and entertainment).
2. When will you visit your school’s career services office?
3. Have you taken any career assessments to give you some idea of what occupations that may be ideal for you?
4. On what dates will your school host career fairs?
5. How many company information sessions will you attend on campus?
6. Which skills do you see yourself using at work on a daily basis (Skills are developed aptitudes or abilities)?
7. Have you looked into the job market’s demand for the careers in which you have an interest? Are you comfortable with the salaries for those occupations?
Will that salary provide you with the lifestyle you wish to live? Will that salary cover your student loans?
8. Will you take the steps that are necessary to find an internship before you graduate?
9. Are there any activitites on campus that will assist you in developing the skills employers find valuable?
10. Have you had a practice interview?
11. Are you working on your resume?
These questions will never fully replace the dynamic conversation you should have with your student, but I do hope that they will give you a few suggestions on how to best to discuss this issue with your child. The earlier we have these conversation the sooner the student will begin to make connections between their studies and their first job after college.