Anna’s Pondering the Question of the Week Series: Go with the STAR(R) to be the Star!

Last week I met with several CAS students for mock interviews, which pointed me to the question-of-the-week: how to handle a job/internship interview? When I see a mock interview appointment on my schedule, I get delighted and excited because obviously the student’s job strategy and application materials have served their purpose, which is leading to an interview. When you get an invitation to an interview, congratulate yourself on your progress but don’t get too relaxed. “It’s well begun, but it’s only half done.” Only an interview can give you that job (or internship) that you want to get! Don’t let this chance disappear: practice, practice, and practice for the interview!

To prepare for the interviews, as a first step, I would recommend exploring information on job interviews on our website, including video materials, links, and print resources that you can borrow from the Career Center library. Next step, record your job interviewing practice using the virtual mock interview tool (InterviewStream.) If you don’t have your own webcam, schedule your InterviewStream practice at the Career Center. After you have recorded your responses to the pre-set job interview questions, you can review the recording by yourself or with your career advisor, and you can make as many recordings as you need! And last, but not the least, meet with your career advisor to get extra personal coaching.

In my experience, interview questions that present the most difficulty to CAS students were behavior-based questions. Such questions help employers probe the candidate’s past behavior in challenging situations, usually similar to situations that the candidate may encounter at the job. Usually, such questions start with: “Tell me about the time when you…..” The question could be about succeeding in something, failing in something, or handling something. Here are a few typical behavior-based questions.

  • Tell me about the time you felt most pressured and stressed at work or school.
  • Tell me about a recent situation when you had to work closely with a group or team that had low morale.
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which received a significant assignment that was confusing or unclear.
  • Describe how you handle conflict. Give a recent example.

As part of your preparation for an interview, create a repertoire, or your own “library”, of stories from your experience (academic, leadership, volunteering, job, internship). Then, at the interview, it will be easier for you to retrieve a relevant example. Have you heard about the STAR method for creating such stories? S stands for the situation, T for your task, A for your actions, and R for the results. This is a tried and tested technique of answering behavior-based interview questions. If you search STAR method on Internet, you will find a lot of information, examples, and even YouTube tutorials. In my student advising, I have also found useful to ask students think two Rs: one for specific Results and the other one for Reflection on what went right and what went wrong. The Reflection part demonstrates to your potential employer that you are capable of analyzing your actions, deriving lessons, and articulating directions for your professional growth and success. Try the STAR(R) method to tell your story succinctly and to the point. And my last tip for the day, you may want to create your STAR(R) stories on paper or in your head, whichever works best for you, but do practice them out loud, rehearse them until you feel comfortable telling your stories as a human, not as a robot!