You can easily set yourself up for interview success if you commit to doing this one simple exercise in advance. Block out an hour for yourself and get this done; it’s one of the smartest things you can do to prepare.
This probably comes as no big surprise, but developing some key statements about your past accomplishments will send you into to your next interview with more hope — and better possibilities.
Here’s what you need to know:
Modern job interviews are behavioral interviews — also known as STAR interviews. This is the new norm. This is the format you must prepare for as a jobseeker in today’s economy.
They’re going to ask you to “describe a situation” or ask you to “tell me about a time when …” Their questions are designed to see how you handled challenges in the past in order to measure your suitability and predict your future effectiveness in the role you’re interviewing for. The best way to answer is using prepared STAR statements.
Situation / Task / Action / Result
Download this STAR Statement Examples template (.pdf) and start filling in the blanks. It’s crucial that you have 4 to 8 STAR statement “accomplishment records” fully rehearsed before you step foot in that door.
Even if you’re not going on interviews right now, this is a great self-development exercise that all smart people should do from time to time. Think back in time and take an inventory of your accomplishments. Write them out. Make them bite-sized stories. Bring them up when you need to establish credibility or want to make a point.
STAR interview answers look like this:
“Sure. To answer your question, about 6 months ago we had a situation where the problem was “XYZ” … the step-by-step action I took was “ABC” … and due to my efforts and because of my competencies, the positive outcome was “123.”
“OK. Let me tell you about a project at [Company ABC] where I [spearheaded / organized / designed / crafted / collaborated on ] an effort that successfully [reduced costs about 20% / grew revenue by 14% over 6 months / got the job done about 50% faster / saved 37 man-hours of work per week / allowed us to help customers 25% more of the time / reduced XYZ usage by 1/3]. The situation we initially faced was …”
Look at the action verbs, and look how the metrics (numbers) are quoted. Do you see a pattern? … How would YOU fill in the blanks? … Think about your past work experience and start playing madlibs. Go through your work history job-by-job and brainstorm. Write it out!
Here are some of my favorite action verbs for writing STAR Statements for my executive clients. You can download my spreadsheet here (google docs). I update it from time to time.
Action Verbs for Business Storytelling
Use these verbs as “writing prompts”
Choose a verb and use it to start a sentence as you brainstorm and write out your prep for the STAR interview format. Schedule an hour for yourself and git ‘er done.
· STAR Statement Examples template download & instructions (.pdf)
· Action Verbs Spreadsheet download (google docs)
· 10 Behavioral Competencies to Consider when you think about projects you’ve worked on.