Many of us rely on the traditional interview format and for good reason. It’s been around forever, we understand it and both interviewer and interviewee are comfortable with it.
Yet the traditional interview is not without problems: the most glaring is the fact that anyone with a little motivation and a decent set of social skills can pick up a how-to book, memorize the script(s) and feed interviewers the “right” answers. Another problem with the traditional format is that our interview questions, while not particularly unique, often vary from one candidate to the next. As a result, the interviewer’s objectivity, fairness, and thoroughness are often questionable.
Find the Right Fit Using Competency-Based Interviews
There are a few alternatives to the traditional interview, but we’d like to talk about the Situation-Task-Action-Result (STAR) interview technique. In this format, interviewers ask competency-based questions about a candidate’s past behavior to assess how s/he is likely to perform in the new position.
It’s not entirely infallible, of course, but often the best predictor of future behavior is what we’ve done in the past. Keeping this in mind, STAR interview questions are framed by the following criteria:
1: A situation or task. The candidate should be able to:
Describe a situation or problem and the context in which it arose (including when and where the situation occurred and who else was present).
Describe a task and ideas for solving the problem.
2: The action taken in response to the situation or task. The candidate should be able to:
Describe the steps taken.
Describe the obstacles that had to be overcome.
3: The results or outcome of the actions. The candidate should be able to highlight the outcomes or experience gained.
Because interviewers are looking for behavior patterns based on the candidate’s real-life experiences, interviewees cannot “wing” their answers or simply repeat pre-generated answers they read from a how-to book.
Although you’ll want to create unique questions relevant to the open position, we’ve provided a few examples of what STAR questions might look like. These questions come from Tom Denham’s article, “50 behavioral-based interview questions you might be asked.”
Describe a time on any job in which you were faced with stresses which tested your coping skills. What did you do?
Tell me a time in which you had to not finish a task because of a lack of information. How did you handle it?
Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
Relate a time in which you had to use your verbal communication skills in order to get an important point across.
Describe a job experience in which you had to speak up to be sure that other people knew what you thought or felt.