The brain works in mysterious ways at the best of times. Imagine though how it will operate if you are sat in front of a scary looking interview panel for the job of your dreams.
With a heightened sense of anxiety and adrenalin coarsing through your veins in response to your fears, it is unlikely that your brain is going to cooperate with you at this crucial moment. As a result, you are likely to operate without thinking and give the panel a whole range of answers that you probably wouldn’t in normal circumstances.
Most commonly, people tend to explain specific examples in an unstructured and confusing manner. You probably know exactly what you meant to say, but instead you end up blurting out lots of information in a chaotic fashion that doesn’t even begin to do justice to what you were trying to explain.
One of the best ways of overcoming this problem is by using the STAR technique to structure your answers. STAR stands for situation, task, actions and result and is best used in the following way.
Imagine you are asked: Give us an example of a time you successfully delivered a project?
An example answer broken down into STAR could be:
(SITUATION) A recent project I was responsible for involved combining two separate office spaces into one to increase efficiency and save costs for the company.
(TASK) As project manager, I had 90 days to achieve this objective whilst managing multiple contractors who were working on various different aspects of the project.
(ACTIONS) To begin with, I arranged a team workshop to allocate jobs and responsibilities. I then divided the available resources into two teams and split the contractors accordingly based on their skills sets before giving each team clear objectives. From this, I could create a more effective use of resources and devised a project plan accordingly that maximised time. Over the period of the 90 days, I took a ‘hands-on’ approach to the project, supervising work being undertaken, resolving problems that arose and ensuring that everyone was working to schedule. When objectives were in danger of not being met, I met with the individuals to understand the issues and assist them with getting back on track as quickly as possible.
(RESULT) As a result of this clear way of working and ‘hands-on’ approach, the job was not only completed on time but I was able to reduce costs by around 20%. This new approach of dividing contractors into smaller sub-project teams was praised by senior management and has now been adopted more widely across other projects to reduce costs further.
You can see from the above example that this clear structure gives the interview panel a brief overview of the background, detailed description of your specific actions and an assessment of the outcomes that resulted from your work. If you leave out any of these parts when providing an example, you are likely to leave the interview panel feeling confused about your answer or unsure of the strength of your achievement.