Imagine interviewing for your dream job and realizing with five minutes to go that you haven’t shared what the hiring manager most needs to know. This happens more often than you might think when employers use a popular behavioral interview technique called the STAR method, which asks candidates to describe a specific situation or task from their past as well as the actions they took and the results they achieved. Behavioral interviews work as well as the questions and context provided by the interviewer, so consider these four steps to increase your chances of success:
- Ask for a framework up front. At the start of the interview, request a brief overview of the role, the goals and the challenges for the first 18 months. If the interviewer dives in by asking you to “tell me about a time…,” you can start your response by saying something like this: “I’d love to. To help me select the best example, it would be helpful if you could take five minutes up front and describe a typical example with your company so that I have a frame of reference.”
- Put yourself in control. Most hiring managers are experts in their functional area but spend less than two percent of their time interviewing new talent. Keep the discussion on the right path by offering specific examples of similar experiences that will provide direct correlation to the goals for the new position. When you do not have an ideal experience match, showcase an example where you were asked to lead a new company initiative. Describe how you overcame obstacles to accomplish success and have since continued to apply this style of learning to new areas of responsibility.
- Be willing to say “maybe you shouldn’t hire me.” If the interviewer asks “why should we hire you?” without providing needed context, this response may be your best option. I’ve seen many candidates land a job by saying something like this: “I’m not sure I’m the right person for you. Why don’t you tell me what you’re looking for and I can tell you what I’ve done that’s most relevant.” Then show appreciation for your interviewer’s effort: “Wow, this is really helpful and now I know what you’re looking for.”
- Ask for specifics. Make sure you get the answers to basic questions. Why is this position open? What does the interviewer see as areas of gaps for this role? What does the organization want you to accomplish in the first six to 12 months?
You have only a short time to share the best information showing how you would fit into a role. Use these steps to make the most of every moment, and you’ll be much closer to a job that will maximize your talent.
By Laura Brown