Here’s how to answer the two types of questions that you will be asked during your interview. Click here if you’d like to see a few sample interview questions while reading this guide.
1. Two Types of Interview Questions
- Traditional: These are open-ended, situational, or future oriented questions. They do not require a structured answer but typically require thoughtful answers.
- Behavioral: These questions require you to provide specific examples from your past experiences where you have displayed a trait/skill the employer is looking for. Behavioral questions do require you to provide a structured answered.
2. STAR Method of Answering Behavioral Questions
These are those kinds of questions that begin with “Tell me about a time…” and “Give me example when…”. The interviewer wants you to prove that you have a certain skill they need, whether it be leadership, teamwork, or programming.
Here’s how to answer any behavioral question using the STAR method:
- Situation – First, describe the setting in which your example takes place. What were you doing? Who were you working with? What project were you working on?
Example: “During my role as an Event Planning Intern this past summer, I supervised a group of 5 in order to host monthly events.”.
- Task – Second, explain how the situation changed and how you were expected to address that change. What was the goal you were striving to accomplish, or the problem you were trying to solve?
Example: “Upon reviewing annual reports, I noticed attendance had dropped 30% and I wanted to find a solution to this problem.”
- Action – Next, clarify the specific steps you took in order to address the task at hand and demonstrate skills you utilized in each of those steps. What did you do to solve the problem or reach the goal?
Example: “I distributed surveys to gather feedback on our events and used this research to design a new, more effective promotional package using Software X.”
- Result – Finally, explain how your actions contributed to the overall end product. How did the situation end? Quantify results if possible. What did you learn?
Example: “The company was able to utilize the promotional packet I created for future events. After implementing some of the new strategies developed from the feedback I gathered, we raised event attendance by 20% within the first year. I learned it’s important to continually adapt to strategies through marketing and research.”
3. STAR Timing
- To avoid losing the interviewer’s attention, try to make your answers as short as possible.
- The Situation and Task parts should be the shortest because they do not show any skill/experience/ability. Try to spend 10-15 seconds on this part.
- Spend the majority of your time on the Action part by outlining what you did step-by-step as clearly as possible.
- Your Results part will typically be very short as it serves only to prove the impact of your efforts.