Over the last few years, we’ve written various posts about the interview process and how to best prepare for such a daunting step within the job search. However, the one thing we haven’t discussed is the importance of learning and practicing the STAR method, so you’re probably asking yourself; what do we mean by the STAR method? Well, it’s a tool you can use when you’re asked either a situational or behavioral question during an interview. STAR is an acronym for:
Situation, Task, Action, Result/Resolution
So, if an interviewer asks you: “Tell me about a time when you led a team and it went well?”
By using the STAR method, you’d describe an example when you led a team and it was a success- the Situation.
For example, “Last year, I coordinated and led a team of volunteers on an Alternative Spring Break in New Jersey where I was responsible for 6 students for a week.”
Next, you’ll want to describe the work or Tasks you performed.
For example, “I drove all of us to New Jersey to help a small community center with the restoration of their town center near the waterfront where Hurricane Sandy occurred.”
At this point you’d want to describe your role as the leader- your Actions.
For example, “As part of my role, I collaborated with the Community Center Director each day to determine the top priorities, whether it was clean up or restoration of the building, then I’d delegate a job for each of our student volunteers.”
Finally, you’d want to describe the result of your leadership- Result.
For example, “By giving each volunteer a job, we created a more efficient work environment and ended up finishing the restoration sooner than we had expected.”
So, what are the benefits of using the STAR method?
You’re guaranteed to answer questions with clear examples.
It should keep you within the suggested 2 minute time frame for your answers.
And it will showcase the skills you’ll bring to the position you’re applying for.
Practice using it, and then try it in your next big interview. It’s guaranteed to help you succeed.
Send a thank you message within a few days of the interview.
In addition to being courteous, a thank you demonstrates enthusiasm, reiterates interest in a position, and provides another shot at selling yourself for the job. Plus it demonstrates strong communication skills!
It’salwaysbeneficial to add more than just “thank you.” But what should be included?
Start with the pleasantries. Thank the employer for taking time to meet with you. Tell them you enjoyed your conversation. Discuss interest or excitement about this position and the company.
Get specific. Talk about a key moment or expand on an answer. Discuss personal skills and experiences and how they would be assets for the company. If there was an important detail left out of the interview, highlight it—briefly. If part of the interview didn’t go as well as planned, address that here (but don’t make excuses). Make a connection to information the employer gave during the interview. Say something like, “When you told me about x, I thought about y.”
Sign off. Let the employer know how you’ll follow up, and thank them again.
Whether to email or mail the thank you depends on the preference of the employer or on the type of interview (phone vs. in person). The time frame for notification could also dictate how it should be sent. (You don’t want the employer to receive your the note—by mail—the day after they’ve made their decision, right?)
Here are a few more tips:
If the interview was with more than one person, send each one a customized note.
Keep the thank you concise. It doesn’t need to be as long as a cover letter.
As always, remember to proofread… Don’t send a note that reads “thanks you.”
After the thank you has been sent, wait. If you haven’t heard from the employer by the time they specified, follow up by phone or email and express your continued interest.
You’ll find a lot of different advice on how to say thank you. The most important thing is that you do it – one way or another.
How to Interview like a Pro: Tips from a Local Recruiter
For most people, an interview creates a lot of stress and anxiety—it is an intimidating way to make a great first impression. For most employers though, the goal of inviting an applicant in for an interview is to get to know them. It’s a meeting based around discovery. We want to know who you are and if you could successfully fit in with the culture of our organization, the position, and the department. We also want you to ask questions that can help you make a decision about whether our company is the right place for you.
Quick tips for standing out & having a successful interview:
Dress for the job you’re applying for. It’s okay to ask what the dress code is when you’re scheduling the interview.
Make eye contact, smile, and shake the interviewer’s hand.
Bring a few copies of your resume with you to the interview.
If you have a samples of something that relates to the position you’re applying for, have it on hand (i.e. for a graphic design position, bring some of your design work).
Don’t over-think things. Trying to perfect every sentence comes off as robotic.
Be natural and be yourself; it is okay to smile and laugh! We can sense when an applicant is putting on a façade.
Work experience and qualifications are important, but they’re not everything. We’re trying to find someone who “fits” in with the department and the company as a whole. Try to find something in common with the interviewer and make an emotional connection.
As the interview wraps up, ask what the next steps are. In most instances, recruiters are happy to let you know where they are in the hiring process and when you should expect to hear back.
~Myra Fundis, UVM ‘11
Human Resources Wellness Specialist with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
Whether you are going through the interview process for a first time or fiftieth time, the interview is an intimidating process. As a student and active job seeker, I have found interviews to be the most troublesome. Not knowing what lies on the other side of the door or phone call is the scariest part for me. Also, I am not entirely sure about how to “sell myself” or answer some simple questions. Luckily, the Career Center at UVM helps with these questions, how to dress and even how to behave. I have a few short tips that help me with my job process.
Personally, I always have a problem with “selling myself” because I believe it is not my place to judge my performance. Since I am a Mechanical Engineering major, I have chosen to bring CAD drawings, MATLAB scripts, and various class projects along with extra copies of my resume to show and verify skills from job descriptions. Clearly everyone will not be able to bring these specific items to an employer, but consider similar project work to demonstrate your industry’s skills.
Another valuable technique involves practicing responses to possible questions in order to see what types of responses interviewers are expecting. Big Interview is a resource that allows you to follow video tutorials and read articles to prepare for your interview, as well as allowing you to practice interviewing by recording your responses to general and industry-specific questions. These recordings can be saved for personal and/or professional feedback. A sample recording I prepared can be seen below:
One more option, the Career Center website, provides information on general interview preparation. Additionally, you can schedule mock interviews or review Big Interview recordings in an appointment with a career counselor.
Jen Guimaraes Associate Director
Community Sailing Center
When a student lands an interview, what should they do to prepare?
Students should make sure to do their “homework” on the organization that they are interviewing with. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the entire organization by researching their website and any other information that you can gather about them. Create a list of questions you have about the organization and the position you are applying for. Employers always ask for your questions at the end of the interview process and having a list shows that you did background research and are very interested in the position. Make sure to dress appropriately, show up on time, and be professional in your communication (word choice and email style) with the prospective employer.
You must interview a lot of applicants for the Community Sailing Center, what makes a candidate stand out?
A candidate stands out if they are energetic, upbeat, and already familiar with the organization. Make eye contact with the employer(s) you are interviewing with and give complete answers to their questions, not just one-word responses. You can almost certainly anticipate what questions an employer might ask you based on the position you are applying for, rehearsing your answers ahead of time is always a good idea. Don’t forget to smile!
What questions should candidates be asking you?
I’ve had candidates ask a number of questions: Do I enjoy my job? What is a typical day like for this position? What is the chain of command with direct and indirect supervisors? Are there any additional duties that I will have not included in the job description?