In the last post, Paul Griffiths gave us some great tips for successful job searches and interviews. Let’s take a closer look at one technique he mentioned– the S.T.A.R. technique – using examples from his original post. Every question that an interviewer asks you is an attempt to find out whether your experience matches the job requirements. S.T.A.R. gives you a framework to answer those questions in a logical manner, so you can effectively share your work experience.
S.T.A.R. = Situation Task Action Result
Step 1 – Situation or Task
[quote name=”Paul Griffiths”]Describe the situation that you were confronted with or the task that needed to be accomplished. With the S.T.A.R. approach, you need to set the context. Make it concise and informative, concentrating solely on what is useful to the story.[/quote]
I don’t have a very good memory, so when I prepare for a job interview I make a table listing each job requirement. Then I write two examples of competency for each specific requirement. For example, when a job requires working with RF systems, I like to talk about the 40+ channel system I worked with at the National Theatre of Portugal. When a job requires specific pieces of software or hardware that I don’t have recent or firsthand experience with, I list two similar products. For example, I don’t use Protools regularly anymore, but using Logic Pro exercises my multi-track recording skills, which are easily transferable to other software.
After I’ve filled out the table and studied it, I like to get a friend to test me, because I won’t have the table with me at the interview when I need to respond quickly and with confidence. Mostly, having this knowledge at your fingertips will make you more confident in your skills. You may think you are completely qualified, but as Griffiths said in our interview, “It isn’t always the best candidate who gets the job; it’s the best prepared candidate that gets the job. You need to convince them that you’re the best candidate for that job. If you don’t, you’ll never get anywhere.”
Step 2 – Action
[quote name=”Paul Griffiths”]You need to demonstrate and highlight the skills and personal attributes that the question is testing. Now that you have set the context of your story, you need to explain what you did.[/quote]
Basically, you need a bunch of stories to show how kick-ass you are and how you save the day on the regular. Remember, story quality is more important appropriateness, so make sure it’s a good one. When I talk about my work experience in Slovakia, I like to say: “I learned how to calculate total wattage, how to mic an orchestra, and how to eat sausage and schnapps for EVERY meal.” Use the table I mentioned before to note a great story you can tell for each of the job requirements.
Another good interview tip: prepare a story for the most common interview questions:
- Why do you want to work here?
- Are you good at working under pressure?
- Are you a good problem solver?
- What is your greatest weakness?
Step 3 – Result
[quote name=”Paul Griffiths” picture=”http://sounddesignlive.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/sound-design-live-paul-griffiths.jpg” align=”left”]Use the opportunity to describe what you accomplished and what you learned in that situation. This helps you make the answer personal and enables you to highlight further skills.[/quote]
Put simply: wrap it up. Tell how your context and stories pack neatly in package with a shiny bow on top. For example, concerning RF systems I would say I’ve used them at three different professional venues that I listed on my application, and have learned a host of troubleshooting techniques like the one I used to save the day. I also improve my knowledge on my own time by participating in the Theatre Sound forum online and attending pro audio seminars.
To Sum Up
- Create a table with the job requirements and connect them with examples of your work experience and great stories.
- Practice answering review questions in a logical manner by citing a Situation or Task, the Action you took, and the Result.
- Be engaging. Be memorable. Don’t forget to smile!
Speaking of confidence, before the interview, watch this video.