23 Aug How do you prep for your dream job interview?
Recently… I was connecting with someone who was prepping for a conversation with a recruiter.
It was with her dream company.
So… in many ways… this conversation was a gateway to her dream job.
She asked me what I’d advice I’d give to prepare… especially since she wasn’t exactly sure how the meeting would go.
So I gave her a piece of advice that someone once gave me.
That is… come up with some S.T.A.R’s.
List out some of the duties / tasks / skills that might be involved in the potential position. (ie. Leadership, customer service, project management, etc.)
Develop some S.T.A.R’s. that could help to illustrate how you’ve successfully walked out some of those duties, types of tasks or skills in the past.
What is a S.T.A.R.?
Well… it’s a story of a past experience broken up into four segments.
The first is “SITUATION.” This is when you describe the specific circumstances of the problem that you fixed, obstacle that you overcame or solution you helped to create.
An example might be…
“I’m really passionate about kids. So I found ABC non-profit organzation. When I first joined ABC though, I realized that there was no process to help people get oriented. It was bumpy and it really took some work to figure out where to plug in. Plus, I could see that people who joined at the same time that I did were dropping out before they ever really got started.”
Then you move on to describe your “THOUGHTS” about the situation and how you could help. This would be when you walk them through your critical thinking and planning process.
So to continue on in our example, it might sound like…
“I realized that I was having trouble engaging and bringing my best to this organization… even though I was passionate about their cause. I could also see that other new volunteers weren’t sticking around due to the same problem. So after a few months of getting my bearings and seeing how things worked, I realized ABC really needed to do something to help people get started and plug in.
So I offered to create a orientation process for new volunteers.”
Next you move on to describe the ACTION that you took. What’s key here is to be specific about what you did… but also offer some specifics about how you did it.
An example of this might be…
“I realized I couldn’t do this on my own. So I recruited a few people to help. One was a relatively new volunteer like me and two other people who had been volunteering with ABC for a few years.
Then we talked about some of the “bumps” we experienced as we came on board with the organization. Plus, we did some interviews of long-tern volunteers to see what seemed to help them to get engaged when they first got started… and what helped them to stay engaged over time.
From there, we put together a plan for a two-hour orientation that included some clear logistical training and it also included some panel discussions celebrating some of the breakthroughs as well as some tips on avoiding some of the pit falls.
We started to hold that orientation each quarter.”
Finally, you want to provide some specific RESULTS from the action that you took. Did your action help? Then show it. And be ready to offer some specifics… if you can.
Our example might continue like this…
“We’ve only been doing these orientations for a year now but we’ve seen some great results.
Before… ABC lost 75% of it’s new volunteers within 3 months. But after we started doing these orientations that number dropped to only 20 to 25%.
Plus, we’re seeing new volunteers bringing their friends. So overall recruitment has been up by at least 25% in the last 6 months.
And, I have to say that it was really fulfilling to be involved in something like that from a personal standpoint.”
Now… depending on what the recruiter is looking for… you could use a story like this to describe your leadership, or your problem-solving or even your engagement.
That’s why I don’t suggest trying to come up with 10 STAR stories. (It’s hard to keep that many organized in your brain!)
But start with 3 to 5… that you can adapt depending on the questions and the situation.
But the STAR approach can help you to respond to questions in a clear and concise way. PLUS… just coming up with some STAR stories can boost your confidence and give you a lil’ extra swagger as you enter into conversations like these.
Here are a few questions to help you to get started in this process:
- What are some key attributes/skills that the new position might call for?
- What are some situations in the past that help to illustrate that you have some experience in this? (Get creative… you may have not had specific customer service experience… but I’m guessing you’ve served people in some way. So… think about something that might be close… acknowledge that it’s different but similar… and roll with it!)
- What are some of the ideas that you (or your team) came up with to help?
- What did you do to implement some of these ideas?
- What were some of the specific results?
You don’t need to come up with stories of eradicating world hunger or saving the panda.
Simply… give yourself some credit. Think through the position and your experiences. Get clear on some S.T.A.R. stories so they’re fresh in your mind.
And then… bring your awesome.
PS – Join in the conversation. What advice would you give someone prepping for a convo like this? What’s worked for you? What traps should she avoid?