How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions Using The S.T.A.R. Method How to Handle Skilled Job Interviewers & Behavioral Interview Questions

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How to Handle Skilled Job Interviewers & Behavioral Interview Questions

Give me a specific example of when you had to solve a difficult team situation?

Behavioral Event Interview (BEI) questions have been used for over 20 years and are widely used by skilled interviewers. In today’s job market, you will likely encounter an interviewer asking this type of question. The following article describes how to identify and handle skilled interviewers who ask BEI interview questions.

Overview

During the interview, you may be asked to describe how you dealt with a specific situation in the past. Asking you about the past indicates that this is likely a behavioral event interview (BEI) question. The answer requires you to recall an example when you successfully dealt with a specific situation. BEIs have been used for over 20 years and are widely used by skilled interviewers.

BEI questions focus on the past while theoretical questions focus on the future. The response strategy for a theoretical interview question is similar in structure but different in content.

Behavioral-Event Interview Questions

The purpose of BEI questions is to ask for evidence or examples of a specific competency or skill that you are working on.

The BEI is based on the premise that a person’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future performance. Interviewers are tasked with predicting your likelihood of success in a position and use your past behavior as an indicator of your future performance.

BEI questions have two parts, the introduction and the focus. The first part of a BEI question (introduction) is phrases like the following:

– Tell me about a time when you…

– Describe a situation when you…

– Teach me a situation where you…

– Give me an example of a specific situation when you…

The second half of the question focuses on the situation in which the interviewer is interested. For example, if the interviewer is looking for information about your analytical skills they may ask the following question. Give me an example of a specific situation when you need to do a detailed analysis of a new product, new project or new market.

If the interviewer is looking for information about your ability to work together in a cross-functional team under tight deadlines they may ask you the following question.

Tell me about a time you joined a cross functional team that had to deliver project results within a tight deadline.

BEI interviewers want to hear about actual events in your past, rather than how you would handle a situation in the future.

Relevant Experiences

You have many experiences that you can talk about to show different dimensions of your skills and abilities. Work experience is just one type of experience. However, if you don’t have work-related experience, you can highlight other experiences to demonstrate the skills the interviewer is looking for.

Evidence of your talents can come in many forms. Projects carried out in an academic setting, voluntary work, professional associations and other life experiences can each provide relevant evidence of your abilities.

Whether you get paid or not is of secondary importance to the content and context of your actions in a specific situation. For example, you may have experience building and leading a six-person volunteer team that analyzes how the local community funds recreation projects. During this summer project, this team may also be formulating and presenting recommendations to local government officials on how to improve funding allocations. This team experience is as meaningful as any business-based team situation.

Your answer to BEI questions should be structured and easy to follow. Interviewers are looking for a detailed and interesting story about your past. Interviewers want to know what you do, obstacles overcome and results achieved. They will know what you did versus what the team did, so you want to balance your description of what we (the team) did versus what I did.

Response Strategy

It is suggested that you frame your answer using STARS technique.

The STAR response technique is as follows:

St – Describe the Situation or Task

A – Describe your Actions and Methods

R – Describe the Results

What You Learned

After you’ve answered, it’s effective to describe what you learned from an event and what you could do differently in the future. Describing what you learned communicates that you are reflecting on past events and seeking to identify areas for improvement. A STAR structured response, combined with what you’ve learned, demonstrates your focus on continuous learning and performance improvement.

Immediate Feedback

You can also complete your answer by asking questions to ensure that you have effectively answered the interviewer’s question. To ask for immediate feedback you can ask questions like:

– Is that the level of detail you’re looking for?

– Is that the kind of example you’re looking for?

Interview Follow-up Questions

Interviewers tend to ask follow-up questions to get more details. For example, the interviewer may ask the following questions:

– What are you doing? – What did you say?

– What do you think? – What is your role?

– Who else is involved? – What challenges are you facing?

– What do you feel this event shows about you?

Sample Answer

The following STAR structured response shows how to handle the question covered in this module, when describing an academic project.

Interviewer:

Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult team situation?

Your Answer:

Situation or Task: (ST)

The situation was that our four-person team was tasked with creating models for our company’s field operation. The task is to identify initiatives to improve efficiency using various methods. Two members of the team focus on one method of analysis while the other two members work on another method. We had to take three initiatives to improve operations.

One team member did not show up for meetings, despite constant reminders and encouragement. His lack of participation is affecting the team’s efforts and needs to be addressed immediately.

Action and Procedure: (A)

My approach is to meet with the problem team member privately and explain the team’s frustration and how his actions are affecting the project. I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Before this action I discussed my intentions with other team members to get their consensus.

The problem team member told me he was overwhelmed with another difficult project. I suggested that we find resources to help him with another project. He agreed. I also asked him to commit to specific actions in our project and to attend team meetings.

Results: (R)

The results were: after I found other resources and employees to help him with his other project, he was able to invest more time in the project with our team and focused on specific milestones. The team’s final result was that we completed our project on time, and presented our recommendations to the company’s operations leadership team.

Good luck with your next interview.

Michael R. Neece, CEO Interview Mastery

[http://www.interviewmastery.com]

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