“I Wanna Talk About Me-e-e…”
So two weeks ago I had a job interview. *GASP* I know. But it was for another position within my company. Before I go on, I have to say that no one should ever go into an interview without doing research. Doesn’t matter if you’re applying to an outside company or inside your own company – your research might yield valuable information that might set you apart from other applicants, or make you realize that it’s just not the job for you. Either way, it’s a lifesaver.
So what set the ball rolling? I knew that when we moved here to the Gulf that I wasn’t taking on my dream job. The primary focus of our move was for the hubs…and my job just sort of fell into my lap. I have a great manager and work with a great group – but I want more responsibility – and want to be challenged. So I put in my time (at my company, it’s not uncommon to move to a new role every 18-24 months) and then started watching for job postings. A friend of my husband came to me with a listing he thought I should look into – and viola – it actually sounded interesting. So I put in my application. And I got selected to interview!
And EEK – I forgot how nerve-wracking a job interview was! You actually have a chance to sit down and brag about yourself – and who knew how difficult that would be! I think the absolute best thing you can do to prepare for a job interview is to practice your answers to the questions you’re most likely to be asked. I know that with my company, they like to use the STARs format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) because it is behavioral based. So the first thing I did was print out the job description and picked out 8-10 different key job responsibilities that would mirror any past experience I had. From there, it was picking out possible “Situations” that I would have to give a response to.
The morning of the interview, I actually took my time getting ready! I dressed up just slightly more than I would normally for around the office. I arrived about 5 minutes early and waited to be called into the room. The entire time I keep wiping the sweat of the palms of my hands…taking deep breaths…uttering scenarios under my breath with a smile plastered to my face. Hah. Then it began. What really helped was that right off the bat the interview team mentioned that even though it was a formal interview, they would like to keep things comfortable.
All in all, I had about 10 STARs questions, which also branched out into follow-up questions. And there was actually one question which I did not have an answer for. And there was yet another question that I felt I stumbled around on and never fully answered. But overall…I felt confident! I was grateful for the opportunity to practice my interview skills. And I was proud of myself for venturing outside of my realm and taking a risk on applying for this position.
So what is STARs, you may ask.
For example, the interviewer may say, “Give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome.”
You would reply with something similar to this:
(Situation) During my internship last summer, I was responsible for managing various events.
(Task) I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years and wanted to do something to improve these numbers.
(Action) I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses. I also included a rating sheet to collect feedback on our events and organized internal round table discussions to raise awareness of the issue with our employees.
(Result) We utilized some of the wonderful ideas we received from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.
Granted – this was not my scenario – but it’s a short, precise answer. There is so much information out there for you to review if you are in the process of searching for a new job…but I can guarantee that you can’t go wrong if you practice in this style! A few key points to remember:
Think of 8-10 stories from your past work experience that show you accomplishing something positive. (For example, how you negotiated with a supplier for a lower price, or how you mentored a co-worker on a difficult subject). The stories should cover a broad range of your abilities.
Write the stories down in the STAR format (which stands for Situation/Task, Action, Result). Practice each scenario out loud in this format so that you get used to hearing the way it sounds.
Review the stories and list the effects (positive or negative) each one had on the following: yourself, your co-workers, your boss, your customers, and your company. Sometimes a question will be centered around turning a negative situation into a positive one or what valuable lesson was learned!
Each of your stories can potentially be the answer to many behavioral questions based on the information you prepare. You need to be able to think on your feet and tailor your stories to answer a specific question.
ALWAYS have at least one question ready for the interviewer when they ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Here is where your research comes in handy!
What is your best/worst job interview memory?