QUESTIONS YOU COULD BE ASKED DURING AN INTERVIEW
Interviews are an opportunity for the company to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the job.
We recommend you study this list and plan your answers ahead of time, ensuring you’ll be ready to deliver them with confidence.
Candidates can often stumble through interviews, fearing any unexpected questions. Many interview questions however are to be expected, based on their purpose to help the interviewer understand you better.
*The answers provided are deliberately specific and unlikely to relate to your exact situation. It’s important you prepare your own responses based on the role you’re interviewing for.*
TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF
A STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format you can use to answer questions.
It stands for Situation, Task, Approach and Results.
WHEN DO YOU NEED STAR?
Have you ever been asked a question that starts with ‘Tell me about a time you did X’ by an interviewer? Chances are that you were being asked a competency question.
Competency questions are generally used to find out how candidates would react to certain situations, by asking for real-world examples to back-up their claims.
Candidates can easily be thrown by these types of questions, but don’t let their open-ended nature fool you. There is a formula you can apply to keep your answers on track, and that’s where STAR comes in.
HOW DO I USE STAR?
To use STAR effectively, all elements of your answer need to work. Here’s a breakdown of how to approach each letter:
S – Situation
Think of this section as ‘setting the scene’.
Provide the interviewer with a bit of background about the question, and give them some context. Try and be specific, and include names and dates wherever appropriate to help add credibility.
At Rubicon Recruitment Group, I was responsible for representing the firm at tradeshows. My second year there, it just so happened that three events we usually attended were scheduled within a month of each other – generally they were spread out over a much longer period of time.
T – Task
Build on the background you’ve given, and outline the task at hand.
Specifically, how did the situation relate to you? And what were the major tasks you needed to undertake to resolve it? Include how important or difficult the situation was to overcome, as well as any constraints you came up against.
It meant a tremendous amount of work was compressed into a really tight window of time. These shows were a huge source of lead generation for the company, so it was essential we attended and presented our products in the best light.
A – Approach/Action
Translation: what did you actually do to resolve the situation?
Outline the steps you took to ensure a successful outcome, without being tempted to take all the credit. The key to effectively incorporating the ‘approach’ part of your answer is to identify what skills the interviewer really wants to see, and reinforce them throughout.
I hate to say I can’t take something on at work, but I took a long, hard look at the situation and realised preparing all three up to the standards I’d want was going be impossible, so I sat down and prioritised the events. One, I realised, was much less relevant to us, so I scheduled a meeting with my manager and we agreed to focus on only two events. Once that was settled, I could draw up a detailed to-do list with interim deadlines for each item so that I’d have all the materials I needed to really represent the company well.
R – Result
Finally, it’s time for the pay-off.
What was the outcome of the situation? Remember, everyone loves a happy ending, and recruiters are no different. Make your happy ending quantifiable, and you’ll really have nailed your answer.
The two events went off without a hitch and I was able to bring several really solid leads back to our sales department. One of them actually resulted in a £100,000 contract, so in the end I was pleased I’d made the call to eliminate one event.
Impressing at a competency-based interview is all about the way you tell your story, so it’s particularly important to prepare for this sort of interview. Put some concrete, quantifiable details down on paper, which could fit a range of situations.
Don’t shy away from including a bit of adversity or failure. It humanises you and helps convince the listener of your sincerity. All jobs involve difficulties. The interview is trying to figure out how you’ll handle them.
A final word of wisdom about STAR: as a structured system, it can help guide your answers and calm your nerves, but don’t follow it too rigidly – you’re not a robot. Make sure your responses flow naturally, from one point to the next.
So keep it natural, conversational and concise, and this acronym will be your new best friend at your next interview.