Let’s be honest, interviews can be daunting. However, approached in the right spirit and with the right preparation, they are an opportunity to celebrate your track record, talk about your skills and align yourself to the organisation. It’s your chance to sit with your prospective colleagues and tell them why you are the right person for the job.
Be a STAR at interview
We know that talking about ourselves in a positive way can be the biggest challenge, so we recommend using the ‘STAR’ interview technique:
This can help you provide tangible examples that show the panel the breadth of your experience. By using this method, you will be able to provide clear and concise answers to questions that start with ‘can you give an example of a time when….’ Or ‘talk to us about…’
Picturing these four words in your head and talking through them chronologically is an excellent way of being clear, concise and impactful when answering interview questions.
While you should appear natural and confident in your answers, we do suggest having a few pre-prepared answers up your sleeve. You should also be prepared to answer follow-up questions about your examples.
First, provide context. It’s all too easy to assume that interviewers know what you are talking about and why.
Start your answer with a simple explanation of your job role and the situation of the organisation. Showing that you can provide comprehensive yet concise context is a great way to show off your communication skills and expertise in your field.
The Feynman Technique is a great way to learn more efficiently, but we believe it also provides a great framework for providing context to the situation.
- Know your subject.
- Explain it to a 12-year-old.
- Reflect, refine, simplify.
- Organise and review.
You can think of the ‘Situation’ section as answering your ‘why’. You should be able to answer this in a few short sentences.
Now, we hone in on the specifics and begin to answer the question. As part of your response, consider:
- Who was involved?
- What was the objective?
- When did it need to be completed?
- Why did it need to be done?
Focus on breaking the above down into around 1-2 sentences each.
Here, you turn to the ‘how.’ The action is the breakdown of how we went about achieving the outcome. This should provide the bulk of your answer, as employers will be listening for the behaviours and competencies that they require.
Structure your answer by thinking about:
- The steps you took and why.
- How you communicated with stakeholders.
- The relevance of your action to the task (refer back to the situation).
- If you are discussing a group task, be sure to describe what you did (using ‘I’), rather than the achievements of the group (‘we’).
Give evidence of a successful outcome as a result of your actions. Providing figures and percentages is effective, alongside positive feedback received from your manager, client or other stakeholders.
Talk about what you learned from the outcome and how this will help you in the role you are interviewing for.
Choosing examples for your STAR answer
It goes without saying that choosing the right example is crucial. It must be the most appropriate ‘best fit’ example for the role for which you are being interviewed:
- Relevance: it should relate to the competency or behaviour being explored.
- Complexity: it should adequately demonstrate your competencies, whilst incorporating other skills along the way – it will also give you opportunities to talk about any difficulties that you may have overcome.
- Impact: what impact will it have on the company/client in terms of growth or improvement to a system?
Preparing for an interview can be daunting, but breaking it down into smaller steps like this can help you stay on track.
Put together a few answers ahead of time, but remember to remain calm and act natural – after all, they want to meet the person behind the CV.
Learn more about preparing for a staff panel interview.
Rachel Davies is our consultant, specialising in recruiting for the not-for-profit sector. With a successful portfolio career as a Performance Lifestyle Adviser, Head of Careers and more recently, a thriving swimming business owner, Rachel took the plunge into Peridot Partners and has never looked back. Combining her wealth of experience with her passion for recruiting good people for good causes, Rachel is set on you achieving gold in your NFP and third sector organisation recruitment search. You can connect with Rachel on Linkedin or why not send her an email.
Eddie Caviezel Cox is our managing consultant for schools and education charities and an expert in finding and recruiting the right people in all areas of the education sector, having worked in recruitment throughout his career. He brings a person-centred, values-led approach to all projects to ensure that the leaders he is placing are the right people to take organisations of great social importance forwards. By placing the right leaders in schools, multi-academy trusts and education charities, we are able to make a difference where it matters most. You can connect with Eddie on LinkedIn or send him an email.