November 1, 2023

At SCL Search, I often find FANTASTIC candidates who just don’t interview well. After much prodding I may be able to uncover some fantastic experiences, but it can be challenging to get the information I need.

One of the biggest issues is unstructured and vague answers. Many jobseekers talk about how they typically do things, and fail to give specific examples.

So, I regularly coach candidates (even in the middle of an interview) to follow the STAR structure so they can keep their answers concise and structured, as well as specific.

STAR is an acronym. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Situation simply means when and where. Outline WHEN the story took place and WHERE you were. This is what sets the stage for a real-life example. It’s essentially the key that unlocks the rest of your story. It only takes a few seconds to outline the situation, but if you skip this key element, your example falls apart and loses credibility.

Task means explaining the challenge or problem was that you were facing. Make sure the challenge you’ve outlined matches the question. This part of your story should take another 10-15 seconds to explain, but not much more than that.

Action is the most important part of your story, and will probably take a minute or two to explain. This is when you outline how you approached the challenge and came up with a solution. Go into detail here, so the interviewer has an idea of your thought process and steps you took before reaching a resolution.

The end result is a great way to wrap up your story, and should only take another 10-15 seconds. The result is never the most important part of the story. I often see candidates who think it’s all about the results, and jump straight to the impact on the business without explaining the action steps of how they got there.

I hope this helps! Let me know in the comments.

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