STAR: A Tool to Handle Interviews

The last few months have been almost entirely about trying to obtain a job, and a major byproduct of that pursuit was interviews. Lots of them! Interviews stand as a golden opportunity for a candidate to impress and convince the recruiter to narrow down the recruiting decision to that particular candidate. Now, to impress and convince a recruiter is up to you completely. Unfortunately content is not something that I can help you with through a general framework. But what I do want to help you out with is the delivery.

Frameworks are tools that helps us manage and work in a structure that makes processing information easier. Interviews are no different. As a candidate it’s your responsibility to deliver information to the interviewer in a manner that is easy to process while creating impact as well. Frameworks help you achieve both.

The STAR framework was something taught to me by my line supervisor while working as a summer intern. The frameworks aims to provide structured answers to questions that ask you to give an example of a situation that you faced. In other words it’s great for Competency Based Interviews or Behavioral Interviews. Let’s break it down. For the example answers below I will be using the following question: “Hasan, can you please tell us a situation where you have added value to an organization and delivered significant results?”

Situation (S) is the first step of the STAR framework. After the question has been asked (I will give an example below), the first thing you need to explain to the interviewer is the context of the answer you are giving. Remember the interviewer does not know you or have that much detail about a particular situation from your CV/resume. It is important that you set the context of the problem/solution before you go into the depth of it.

“Certainly sir. When I was an intern in the HR Dept. of XY Corp, I was taken on the Recruitment Improvement Project. XY needed to create an improved recruitment structure to increase quality of hire.”

The answer allows the interviewer to understand what the situation was, and what that position required Hasan to do. The Situation step helps clarify the context.

Task (T). The second step of the framework is to point out what you were ask to do in the situation. While the context gives the interviewer the background of the situation, task helps the interviewer understand your role in it. You could include both the work and the objective here to further enunciate your role.

“My role in the project was to take recommendations from different stakeholders of the process, analyze the best practices, and create a more effective and efficient process flow.”

sound-design-live-interview-tips-star-technique

Action (A) is the depth that you should take advantage of in explaining your role. Task helps you summarize and display what you were supposed to do, while Action helps you to explain in details as to what you did, how you did it, and why you did it in that manner. Remember Situation and Task are only a buildup to Action, this is the main part of the answer.

“As the first step I started to talk with my colleagues inside the organization regarding the areas of improvement in the current recruitment process. With the different insights in mind of my internal stakeholder, I looked into the recruitment practices of the top organizations in Bangladesh. Talking with different HR personnel in different corporations, I learned as to why their recruitment process is efficient and effective for their organizations. After taking both internal and external insights into consideration, I started to create a structure for my organization.”

Result (R) is the last step of the framework, which gives you the opportunity to brag a little. This is where you talk about the significant results that your value has caused. All value must have some qualitative or quantitative measure to show its impact. An interviewer would like to know whether your said actions have actually contributed any genuine value.

“My work helped create an improved recruitment process flowchart which provides an efficient recruitment method for a particular level of hire. The HR Dept. is currently suing the structure I had co-created.”

The STAR framework acts as a great delivery tool for candidates. It may seem odd at the beginning answering in such a structured manner, but after a few attempts you’ll see that the framework is instilled in your answering mechanism. There are certainly a lot more frameworks which can help you in the same situation so I suggest you go look into them as well and use whichever you’re most comfortable with. However frameworks are only a structure, and it will be only as good as the content you put into it. Best to create quality content first, and then use the framework.

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