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Behavioral-based Interview Technique and STAR formula answers

Increasingly, companies are turning to behavioral-based interview techniques to identify the best qualified candidate for the job.

Behavior based interviewing is based upon the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior

A structured interview procedure with a particular method of questing techniques and analysis of responses

A method used to analyze the skills and qualities required for success in the job and identify candidates that have demonstrated these skills in past experiences.

Behavior based question starters

  • Tell me about a time when
  • Give me an example of
  • Describe a time when

STAR formula answers

Situation or Task: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. Be specific and provide details. Paint a vivid picture for you interviewer to create clear understanding.

Action: Describe the action you took. Don’t tell what you would do, tell what you did. Focus on your contributions – use “I” statements, not “we” statements.

Result: Explain the results of your action. Focus on positive outcomes and accomplishments. Share what you learned or feedback you received. Quantify your results if applicable.

Tips to prepare for a behavior – based interview

  • Analyze the position. What skills are required?
  • Analyze your own background. What skills and qualities have you demonstrated that relate to the positive?
  • Identify examples from your experience where you demonstrated the skills.
  • Develop and rehearse brief “ stories” about how you used these skills using the STAR formula.
  • Use numbers to quantify your results and to help illustrate the scope of your responsibility.
  • Identify three to five top selling points and convey them during the interview.
  • Examples can come from a variety of your experiences : part-time jobs, internships, class projects,volunteer experience, activities, student leadership, life experiences etc.

Sample behavior-based questions

  • Tell me about a time when you worked in a group to accomplish a task.
  • Describe a time you faced a challenge in your last job and how you handled it.
  • Give me an example of a time you set a goal and reached it.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to persuade someone to accept an idea.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to keep a positive attitude in a difficult situation.

Sample STAR answers

Question: Describe a time you demonstrated leadership in a difficult situation?

Situation or Task: All of my fraternity brothers had left for spring break when one brother was involved in an car accident.

Action: None of our officers were available, so I went to the hospital with him, called his parents in Greensburg, and made arrangements for them to stay at the Hospital Hospitality House.

Result: His parents appreciated my time & effort. Our advisor complimented me on keeping a cool head & handling all of the details. I’ve since decided to run for a chapter office position.

Practice Your Interview Skills

Career Services offers resources and program to help you further develop your interview skills. Don’t make your first interview a practice run!

Interview Stream

This program allows you the freedom to practice interviewing at home or at your Columbia College career services center. You can practice an interview and get feedback from an expert. Check out our calendar of events for upcoming dates.

MOCK Interview Day

Find out “ What to Expect” on a typical interview and practice your interviewing skills with a Professional recruiter or a hiring manager. Usually held once a semester. Check events for upcoming dates and then call Career Services at 573-875-7425 to schedule your mock interview appointment.

MOCK Interviews with your Career Counselor

Schedule an appointment with your career counselor for a mock interview. The session can be recorded if you request. Call 573-875-7425 to schedule a mock interview appointment.

Career Resource Library

For more information on interviewing, visit our Career Resource Library in Missouri Hall 218. You’ll find a selection of helpful books and handouts on interviewing, including these:

  • The 90 minute interview prep book
  • Knock Em Dead Interviewing
  • Best answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions.


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