Behavioral or STAR Job Interview Questions: Are You Ready?

Woman talking to a young person at a career fair.Are you ready to answer “behavioral” type questions on your next job interview? Also known as targeted selection, situational, or STAR questions (STAR will be explained later), these types of questions are now very common.  They may be popular, but they are also quite different from the typical questions you might expect to hear.  First, the interviewer asks you to recall a real, past situation involving certain conduct or behaviors.  You then share the details of that experience.  The idea here is that your past behavior will serve as a predictor of your future behavior.

Examples of such questions might include:

  • Describe a time which you had to handle an angry customer; what happened and what was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you worked with someone who came from very different cultural background than yourself.

It is natural to be nervous during an interview, making it difficult to quickly recall such situations. This is especially true when trying to think of experiences which you would be willing to share!  Therefore, giving some forethought to these types of questions will help greatly.  No, you don’t want your responses to sound overly rehearsed.  However, thinking about such questions and situations in advance can give you some ideas upon which to draw. Continue reading

Securing and Submitting Professional References

A closeup of a professional references list.When applying for a position online, you may be asked to attach a file containing the names and contact information for professional references as a required part of your application submission.  Even when a computerized online application form is not used, many job postings  specifically indicate professional references must be submitted.  If you are in an interview, but have not yet been asked for references, the topic may come up.  This is especially true if you are being seriously considered for the position.  So, what it the proper way to handle requests for professional references?

Why and who?

First, let’s look at why applicants are asked for professional references and who should these individuals should be.  Remember, to an interviewer, you are an unknown and unproven entity.  In this situation, there is always the very real risk of inadvertently making a bad hiring decision.  Contacting professional references is one way interviewers feel they can help minimize that risk.  After all, a professional reference is – or should be – an individual who can attest to your experience, skills, and integrity.

The ideal reference is someone who has seen you on the job and can speak to your work quality. They can report on how well you performed in a similar position or setting.  The interviewer would like to actually talk with a number of people who are able to confirm your employment history.  If these people are willing to stick their necks out to vouch for you, great!  He or she will feel that due diligence has been done in vetting you.  Yes, interviewers are aware you will likely provide the names of people who will (or should) say only good things.  More about that later.

Let’s look at some suggestions to help ensure your list of references is helpful rather than harmful. Continue reading