Entry by Pat Patterson
From the January 2011 INTERNnetwork:
In internship interviews, employers commonly ask behavioral interview questions that focus on past events in your life and your responses. Since a student will typically not have much work experience, behavioral interview questions are open-ended questions that focus on past performances to assess behavior – in particular, how you may respond to similar situations in the future. “Can you tell me about a goal you accomplished at a previous job?” is an example of a behavioral interview question.
Since behavioral interview questions are open-ended, they can be difficult to answer. Therefore, you need to be prepared. The S.T.A.R. technique for interviewing is a method for thoroughly answering behavioral interview questions. Using the S.T.A.R. technique, you describe your actions in past situations to answer behavioral questions.
S.T.A.R. is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
Situation – Provide some context for the interviewer by providing an overview of the situation;
Task – explain the task(s) or goal(s) that you were working toward;
Action – describe what you did to address the situation and complete the task(s) or achieve the goal(s); and
Result – describe the outcome of your actions.
S.T.A.R. Technique in Action
Interviewer: Can you tell me about a goal you accomplished at a previous job?”
Interviewee: This past summer I worked at a marketing firm (Situation). I was asked to coordinate a networking dinner (Task). In order to do so, I contacted multiple of the firm’s potential clients and invited them to the event. I also secured a location and made catering arrangements (Action). On the day of the dinner, there was a large turnout. Everyone enjoyed the meal, and my employers were pleased to have acquired several new clients (Result).
Other Possible Behavioral Questions
- Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in making a decision.
- What have you done in the past to contribute toward a teamwork environment?
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic to solve a problem.
- How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
Of course, these questions are only a few that may be asked during an interview. In addition, keep in mind that the example used in this article is a mock example that does not illustrate a standard length for an answer – you should always address questions with the appropriate amount of detail.