An interview is two things. It is an opportunity and it is experience. 

The opportunity to step into a career to match your aspirations. From every interview you partake in, you take away lessons which feeds into your experience.

Interviewing for your next level role, whether stepping up into a higher position or even making a strategic side-step move, requires a new interview strategy. There are other aspects and answers you need to take into consideration. And the Method that you need to use.

Interview – the STAR method

When planning your answers, there is a method called STAR. I am sure you have come across this before, however here is an refresher on the concept:   

STAR is an acronym for four words. Each concept is a step you can use to answer a behavioural interview question. By using all four steps, you can provide a comprehensive answer.  

Break it down now

  • Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work. For example, perhaps you were working on a group project, or you had a conflict with a colleague. This situation can be drawn from a work experience, a volunteer position, or any other relevant event. Be as specific as possible. 
  • Task: Next, describe your responsibility in that situation. Perhaps you had to help your group complete a project within a tight deadline, resolve a conflict with a colleague, or hit a KPI target.  
  • Action: You then describe how you completed the task or endeavoured to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or colleague did. (Tip: Instead of saying, “We did xyz,” say “I did xyz.”) 
  • Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken. It may be helpful to emphasise what you accomplished, or what you learned.    

Remember:

Although STAR is a useful tool for approaching interview questions, it is also about knowing where and when to apply the method.

Questions that begin with ‘Tell me about a time when’ or ‘Can you give me an example of a time when’ is a great opportunity to get the STAR examples out.

Questions like, what would you do in your first three months in this role can be answered more directly. Such as: “In the first three months I would want to get to know my colleagues, map out my key stakeholders and start building relationships. In my previous role, I organised 121’s with key business stakeholders as an introduction as well as a way to find out their expectations, I found this really useful as this helped formed my overall objectives for the probation period.”

So what next?

Time to get some examples ready!

And… If you want to send a follow up email after your interview, especially if you felt the interview went really well. Don’t write war and peace – A couple of paragraphs will do. See the worksheets for a template.

If you don’t get offered the job, always ask for feedback. Like I said at the beginning of this post, an interview is always about the experience – what can you learn from the interview and what can you improve on for next time? 

It can be disappointing when you receive the rejection email or call. To overcome any setbacks, start to journal your thoughts and feeling – picking out what are the true statements and cross out the false.