MBA Term of the Day
Behavioral Interview: A type of interview where the interviewer asks questions about a person’s behaviors in the past to see how that person would respond to similar situations in the future. For example, “Tell me about a time when you…” This type of question gives interviewers insight into how the interviewee could fit with the culture of a workplace based on how they respond to different challenges or situations.
It’s about that time of year when prospective MBAs are interviewing with schools, first year MBA students are on the hunt for a summer internship, and second years are looking for their perfect job. Many interviews have a behavioral component (that might be supplemented by traditional questions, presentations, cases, etc.), but some are completely behavioral (like the interview I had for my upcoming internship).
The STAR technique is the best way I’ve encountered to tackle the behavioral interview. It is a simple structure for interviewees to follow to make sure they hit all of the main points of their story and fully answer the question.
Each letter stands for one of the steps:
S=Situation: Set the scene of your story – where were you when it took place?
T=Task: What was the problem you faced and needed to fix?
A=Action: What specific steps did you take to fix the problem?
R=Result: How did the situation end up?
Let’s walk through how it works with a sample question.
Q: Tell me about a time you didn’t agree with a manager, what did you do?
When you are giving your answer, you shouldn’t say, “The situation was… The task was…” You should weave it into a story while making sure you hit your four key points.
A: (Situation) I was working for a company that always hosted an annual dinner for high school seniors that showed leadership in their schools. (Task) One year, my manager decided to cut the dinner so we could use the extra money to fund a remodel of our break room at work, since we discovered there was mold in the walls. I viewed this annual dinner as a valuable time for our company to work alongside and support the progress in the community, and although we needed a new break room, this would not be the appropriate way to pay for it. (Action) Before approaching my manager with this belief, I knew I needed to find a way to effectively fund both causes without increasing company spending. I was able to find three ways to cover the expenses without affecting the leadership dinner, they were: (List actions/ideas). (Result) Once I had my proposal organized, I made an appointment to meet with my manager to go over my ideas. It turns out she completely agreed that we should not pull funding from the leadership dinner, and using my three recommendations we were able to build the new break room while ensuring we provided the dinner for our community.
When I was interviewing for my summer internship, I actually created an Excel spreadsheet that had common behavioral questions listed all the way down column A. Then in row 1 I made separate columns for the “S” the “T,” etc. and wrote out my structured answers to the behavioral questions. Now I have a very pretty “go-to” sheet for practicing my interview responses.
Do any of you use the STAR method?
Do you have any other interview preparation techniques?