Behavioral Interviewing and the STAR Method of Answering Interview Questions

About Behavioral Interviewing and the STAR Method

Behavioral Interviewing is a popular method for finding the right fit for an organization. The basic premise is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is understanding past performance in a similar situation. It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related.

The STAR method provides a logical approach to answering questions by describing one of your past successes in responding to the question.

What is STAR

STAR = Situation – Task – Action – Results

Situation 
Describe the situation that you were in (what was the problem you needed to solve).  This can be from a previous job, volunteer experience or any other relevant event in your personal life. Make sure you describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand.

Task 

What was the task that you needed to accomplish (the solution to the problem)

Action

Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did — not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Results you achieved
What happened? What was the outcome? What did you learn? Discuss how the task was successful as a result of your action.

This gives the interviewer a story that tells them about you and what kind of employee you are, which is much  more powerful than just telling them.

Confident Posture – why and how

Today’s topic is on Posture.

You can tell so much about a person, (how they’re feeling, how they feel about themselves, their surroundings…). It can even effect how others feel about you and respond to you!  So A confident posture is important.

To help achieve good posture while looking relaxed and confident:

Take a deep breath and pull your shoulders back while sitting (or standing) up straight. Then relax your shoulders and exhale. Do this more than once if you’re particularly nervous. It gives you a burst of confidence and allows for good breathing. It can also help you to avoid or reduce feelings of nervousness and discomfort.

While attended a networking event in St. Louis, I ran into a friend I’ve known for a while. He suggested that you take both arms and put them straight up in the air while taking a deep breath. (come on, those of you reading this… get those arms up). Now slowly drop your arms down to your sides while exhaling. (feels good, doesn’t it?). This is also a very effective way to relax and show good posture, though you may not want to do this one in the lobby while waiting for your interviewer. ;)

The Handshake and What It Says About You

I’ve written a few posts about body language, and how you come across to others. I recently received a request to talk more about the topic (and I aim to please), so today’s topic is all about the handshake.

And that’s the first point. The handshake IS important. When you meet someone, SHAKE THEIR HAND. If your hands are full, free them. If they’re standing across the room, approach them. Ignoring a handshake can be seen as disrespectful, so stand up, free your hand, approach the other person and give them a good firm handshake while making eye contact and smiling.

Now, a few tips about the handshake itself:

Warm your hands. Before you meet with the other party, rub your hands together to warm them up, and wipe them on your clothes to make sure they’re dry. You can also sit with your hands underneath your legs to keep them warm and dry.

Free your right hand. When they enter the room, make sure your right hand is free and clear for the handshake.

Go the distance. Stand too close and you’re invading their space. Stand too far away and you appear uncomfortable and isolated. You should stand far enough away to “extend” your hand to shake theirs, but don’t stand so far away that your body has to lean forward to reach them. If’ you’re not sure, stand still, extend your hand, and let them step in to a comfortable distance.

Get a grip. Never EVER grip too tight, especially if you’re a man shaking a woman’s hand. But a weak handshake is not good either. (ladies, NEVER do the little “fingertip handshake”). Give a good solid handshake without squeezing. It’s courteous and shows confidence.

Good hand positioning. Believe it or not, the angle of your hand is significant. An “underhand shake”, where your palm is up, is a sign of submission. An “overhand shake”, where your palm is facing downward, is a sign of dominance. It’s best to make sure your palm is facing sideways, not up or down. If the other person’s palm is facing upward or downward, you should take their hand and adjust so that both your hands are vertical. This indicates a partnership and equality.

A good general rule of thumb… follow the other person’s lead with everything EXCEPT positioning, which should ALWAYS be vertical.

Hope this helps!