Take the STAR Approach to Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviewing techniques are becoming more popular among employers and hiring managers.

Behavioral interviewing techniques are becoming more popular among employers and hiring managers.

Unlike the traditional “tell me about yourself” interview, where you are asked for information and opinions, the behavioral interview makes you relate personal and professional experiences through “tell me about a time when” questions.

The premise is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. Questions may focus around decision-making, communication, problem solving, and ethics.

Behavioral interviewing makes a lot of pharmacists sweat, especially because these types of questions are a big part of most job interviews. However, using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach will cut your anxiety and put you at the top of the list for a second interview, or even a job offer.

Through the STAR approach, you can answer the interviewer’s questions in the form of a story that summarizes and demonstrates your work experience.

Here’s how to do it:

Situation

Begin your answer with the “who, what, where, when” of the situation you are describing. Instead of providing a generalized description, be very, very specific.

Your response should sound something like this:

“When I was working as a retail pharmacist for ABC Pharmacy, I had to work with a very disgruntled customer who was having issues with his Medicare Part D plan.”

This depicts the sorts of situations you’ve been in, as well as their limitations.

Task

The task portion involves your exact role in a particular situation and how you were able to turn it into an opportunity.

Start with something like this:

“As a manager, I was assigned to improve productivity across our pharmacy team. I saw this as an opportunity to create a stronger professional relationship between the pharmacists and technicians, which would not only help the organization, but also increase customer satisfaction related to our prescription turnaround time.”

This response shows your exact role in the task and your plans to solve the problem.

Action

The action portion describes the steps you took to solve your task, which is often the most difficult part of the STAR process for the interviewee. Take time to explain the sequence of your actions, your thought process, and the rationale behind your actions, as well as any roadblocks you encountered along the way.

Make sure to keep the focus on you and what your involvement was by using “I” rather than “we” when describing actions.

Result

Finally, the result portion is used to sum up the quantifiable results of your work. For instance, how did things improve because of what you did? What lessons did you learn?

Don’t be shy about taking credit for your contributions and make sure that your answer contains positive results. At the same time, be honest and don’t embellish any part of your story.

By using the STAR approach, your interviewer will understand how you approach and solve problems, as well as how you apply certain skills to the tasks at hand.

Although a job interview may not be in your immediate future, STAR is a great communication tool to use on a daily basis. Think about its utility when you’re describing an incident to your supervisor or giving an update to your counterpart at the next shift change.

Just like in the interview process, you will find that summarizing the challenge at hand through a thoughtful, well-structured process is a plus for everyone.