This blog is written by Ellie, our Campus Ambassador for Iowa State University. She is a junior majoring in Agricultural Studies with minors in Advertising and Animal Science.
Behavioral interviews can be intimidating. Actually, they ARE intimidating. I have been to countless interviews where behavioral or STAR interview methods were used. For those of you who haven’t participated in a STAR interview, STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. The interviewers ask a question about a situation and you have tell them the situation or task at hand, the action you took, and the result or outcome. Coming up with specific stories or events from your work or school experience that precisely pertain to one of the situations can be terrifying and frankly, may cause you to be at a loss of words. Unfortunately, I know this from experience.
Since STAR/behavioral interviews are becoming more and more popular with HR departments, interviewees need to be better prepared to answer some of those hard to answer questions. One of the biggest tips I found on how to get through those awkward moments where your face turns bright red is to prepare, prepare, PREPARE! I would recommend looking over questions that could possibly be asked. I have never had the same question asked twice; however, having stories in my head of different situations has helped me stay on track when answering behavioral questions. Here is a link that I found most helpful when preparing for a behavioral/STAR interview. It is a website for the people conducting interviews and good questions to ask, but I found it to be the most helpful! In my experience with researching and preparing for a behavioral interview, I can hardly ever find any good answers because they truly do need to be tailored to your own experience. I like this website because it lists the questions so I have an idea of the type of stories and situations I need to have in the forefront of my mind. When answering a question, I recall recent situations that show favorable behaviors or actions, especially involving course work, work experience, leadership, teamwork, initiative, planning, and customer service. By researching the company and the specific internship, I can tie in traits or key words that the employer listed in the job description. Along with those tips, I also recommend varying your examples of situations you have been in. Try not to provide examples from just one experience or job; this will help you portray a diversity of skills, interests and experiences.
Even though Behavioral /STAR interviews can be frightening, I believe that by preparing yourself, you won’t be as nervous when asked questions using the ‘STAR’ technique. If you have a story or situation in mind, it will be easy to talk about. Thus, following the STAR structure, you can narrate direct, meaningful, personalized experiences that best identify your qualifications. Good luck, Interns!