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Want To Nail The Toughest Interview Like A Pro? You Need To Master This STAR Approach

Want To Nail The Toughest Interview Like A Pro? You Need To Master This STAR Approach

When interviewing candidates for work, modern-day employers tend to favor competency-based questions that encourage individuals to draw on their personal experience. In fact, if you look at the top interview questions often posed by HR representatives,[1] the vast majority require candidates to highlight practical experience through their answers.

While these questions are generally feared by interviewees, the answers that they prompt are extremely detailed in their nature and make a positive impact on employers. It therefore makes sense that you should respond to all questions with competency-based answers when possible, as this provides the best demonstration of your skills and suitability as a candidate for work.

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The STAR and CAR Approaches: How to Respond to Interview Questions

One of the main challenges associated with interviews is responding effectively to employer questions, particularly those that are not competency-based and do not prompt respondents to actively draw on their experience. After all, while competency-based questions usually start by asking you to recall a specific time when you had to overcome a business challenge, those that are more general in their nature are often presented as hypothetical situations, which have no basis in reality.

The variable ways in which these questions are phrased has a direct impact on how interviewees respond, which is why you should develop a strategic approach that enables you to answer all queries as though they are competency-based. Below, we will discuss the STAR and CAR approaches, [2] which create a clear thought process that can direct and inform your answers.

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The STAR and CAR Approaches: How Do They Work?

These approaches are extremely similar in their nature, but let’s start by looking at the STAR strategy for answering interview questions. This is an anacronym for Situation, Task, Action and Result, and it provides a generic structure for any question that a potential employer will ask you. Let’s assume that you are asked about a time when you have overcome a major obstacle in your life and the approach that you took to achieve your aims, and you wanted to respond by talking about problems you incurred while completing your dissertation at University.

Using the STAR approach, you would first set the scene by describing the scenario and creating a context for your answer (in this instance this would mean relaying the specific year of study and your subject of interest). You would then go on to present the challenges that you encountered while completing the dissertation, before describing the direct actions that you took to over come these. The last part is arguably the most important, as this shares the positive results of your efforts and completes a narrative that employers can engage with.

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As you can see, this is a breathtakingly simple approach that can be used to answer almost any interview question, and the same can be said for the slightly more concise CAR approach. This translates into Context, Action and Result, and it is almost identical to the STAR strategy with the exception that it negates the need to describe the scenario and the challenge separately. This approach is ideal in instances when you need to go into greater detail while describing the actions that you took to overcome the challenge, as it enables you to answer the question in a quick but efficient manner.

How to Make the STAR and CAR Approaches Work for You

If this approach is to work for you, it is important to keep a couple of points in mind. The first is to ensure that you capitalise on its simplicity, as this ensures that you can apply it to any conceivable interview question and deliver structured and impactful answers. We would also recommend practicing the approach outside of an interview scenario, applying it to various, non-competency based questions that are likely to be asked by employers. It is also wise to adhere to one of the STAR or CAR approaches, as while they may be similar it is important to avoid confusion and maintain a clear, open mind.

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If you follow these ideals, the STAR and CAR techniques can help you to deliver seamless and coherent answers that have a positive impact on employers. Make no mistake; the structure and guidance offered by these approaches can prove invaluable, so we would definitely recommend trying these when attending interviews.

Reference

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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