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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 October 13, 2020

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why do you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    Define success to get promoted

      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

      Final Thoughts

      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

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