Attending an interview, whether it be over the phone or in-person, is stressful. Employers and interviewers are assessing what you say, how you say it, and your overall behavior and style of speech. One way to ensure your answers are as strong and composed as possible is to answer questions using the STAR method.
One of the most popular methods for answering questions during interviews is the STAR method. Using this method will help transform your two-minute answer, helping you to paint a picture and showcasing both your skills and how you have used them in the past.
STAR stands for:
S: Situation – Situation means that you need to paint a picture in a general sense. In the Situation part of the answer, you must describe the background to the main event.
T: Task – Task is where you include the specifics. While in Situation, you were merely opening the story, in Task you are getting into the nitty gritty of the problem. You need to describe why it was such a big problem and why you were the one to deal with it.
A: Action – Action is really where you are aiming to get to the bottom of the story. You have been faced with a big challenge: How did you deal with it? What plan did you put into action to ensure the desired outcome?
R: Result – Result is wrapping up the story. After building up the problem and solution, you now have to explain how you got the desired result and what this achieved in the long run.
While your answers should take no more than two minutes, with the STAR method, they will still be fully detailed and impressive. Instead of providing just a simple yes when asked, “Have you ever been in charge of a team? How did you deal with this?" you, with the STAR method, will be able to provide a full picture of both yourself and your skills.
Question: Tell me about a time when you were in charge of a group.
Answer: In college, I was in charge of a group assignment involving running a fictitious company. There were various steps and duties involved in this task, from marketing to the accounts to a myriad of things in between. We had to find a new office for relocation of the company. This involved a cost-benefit analysis as to where to move the office. We had to consider space, rent, and location, as well as some other details like travel time for our workers and funding. The exercises we had to complete for the task were not the main challenge though. As the project leader, it was my job to ensure that everyone had a task to do, and that meant ensuring that everyone was up to speed on where everybody else was at.
However, we did encounter a problem. One member of our team was unable to attend most meetings. This not only harmed him, but also the rest of the group, as we all needed to contribute and help each other in order to succeed. As a group with a missing member, we had a meeting in which it was decided that I should have a quiet word with him to discuss his absence. It transpired that he was going through a very tough time in his personal life, with a member of his family being seriously ill. He was overstrained and trying his best, but his work was suffering. I suggested that we take up this matter with the professor as I felt that he should be allowed some dispensation regarding this assignment, and it wasn't my personal call to make.
We managed to arrange this meeting, at which time we explained the problem both with regard to his personal issues but also to our group work as a whole. This was because the workload was too great for a team of four being reduced to three. The professor decided that he would get a dispensation from this project that could be made up at a later date and that we, as a group, would get a week’s extension in order to complete the work. We managed to do this, and due to the fact that through this crisis we had grown stronger as a group, we were able to produce the required results on time. In fact, as a group we did well on this project.
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