Using the STAR Method in an Interview

Computers shaking handsOver the last few years, we’ve written various posts about the interview process and how to best prepare for such a daunting step within the job search. However, the one thing we haven’t discussed is the importance of learning and practicing the STAR method, so you’re probably asking yourself; what do we mean by the STAR method? Well, it’s a tool you can use when you’re asked either a situational or behavioral question during an interview. STAR is an acronym for:

Situation, Task, Action, Result/Resolution

So, if an interviewer asks you:
“Tell me about a time when you led a team and it went well?”

    • By using the STAR method, you’d describe an example when you led a team and it was a success- the Situation.
  • For example, “Last year, I coordinated and led a team of volunteers on an Alternative Spring Break in New Jersey where I was responsible for 6 students for a week.”

    • Next, you’ll want to describe the work or Tasks you performed.
  • For example, “I drove all of us to New Jersey to help a small community center with the restoration of their town center near the waterfront where Hurricane Sandy occurred.”

    • At this point you’d want to describe your role as the leader- your Actions.
  • For example, “As part of my role, I collaborated with the Community Center Director each day to determine the top priorities, whether it was clean up or restoration of the building, then I’d delegate a job for each of our student volunteers.”

    • Finally, you’d want to describe the result of your leadership- Result.
  • For example, “By giving each volunteer a job, we created a more efficient work environment and ended up finishing the restoration sooner than we had expected.”

    So, what are the benefits of using the STAR method?

    • You’re guaranteed to answer questions with clear examples.
    • It should keep you within the suggested 2 minute time frame for your answers.
    • And it will showcase the skills you’ll bring to the position you’re applying for.

    Practice using it, and then try it in your next big interview. It’s guaranteed to help you succeed.


    Make Yourself Shine Online!

    Computers shaking hands

    So you found your dream job.  You spent hours editing your resume and cover letter to perfection, and you scored an interview.  You don your finest dress outfit, arrive early, and ace the interview with your professionalism, knowledge, and inquisitive questions.  You know you are the perfect candidate for the position, and the employer knows it too.

    The hiring manager is ready to give you the position, but first she searches your Facebook profile.  On it is an array of statuses and pictures about your affinity for funneling beers, flippin’ the bird, and complaining about work.  One quick glance from the hiring manager and your application, along with your hopes for future employment, are tossed in the trash.


    Technology is a useful tool to help you network, apply for jobs, and make yourself stand out from the crowd in a positive light, but it is important to be cautious about how your online presence appears.  Here are some helpful tips:

    • Google yourself.  This will give you a sense of what employers will see and what you need to change about your online presence.
    • Delete your Facebook and Twitter! Or at least set your privacy settings as strict as possible.  The last thing you want is an employer snooping on pictures of your late-night shenanigans.
    • Create a LinkedIn profile.  By creating a professional presence online you can highlight your skills, network with future employers, and see what other UVM alumni are doing with their degree.  To get started:
      • Come to a LinkedIn workshop at the Hub in the Davis Center.  These occur every Thursday at 4:15 pm.
      • Create a comprehensive resume so you can easily transfer your skills and experiences to the online world.
      • Start connecting! Classmates, work colleagues, and friends are the perfect people to start your network with.

    You now have all the tools to create a positive online presence and find that dream job.  Good luck!

    ~Caleb, Career Peer Mentor

    Don't Forget to Say Thanks!

    Hand writing thank you with a penSo you passed the interview stage.  Now what??

    Send a thank you message within a few days of the interview.

    In addition to being courteous, a thank you demonstrates enthusiasm, reiterates interest in a position, and provides another shot at selling yourself for the job.  Plus it demonstrates strong communication skills!

    It’s always beneficial to add more than just “thank you.”  But what should be included?

    • Start with the pleasantries. Thank the employer for taking time to meet with you.  Tell them you enjoyed your conversation.  Discuss interest or excitement about this position and the company.
    • Get specific. Talk about a key moment or expand on an answer.  Discuss personal skills and experiences and how they would be assets for the company.  If there was an important detail left out of the interview, highlight it—briefly.  If part of the interview didn’t go as well as planned, address that here (but don’t make excuses).  Make a connection to information the employer gave during the interview.  Say something like, “When you told me about x, I thought about y.”
    • Sign off. Let the employer know how you’ll follow up, and thank them again.

    Whether to email or mail the thank you depends on the preference of the employer or on the type of interview (phone vs. in person).  The time frame for notification could also dictate how it should be sent. (You don’t want the employer to receive your the note—by mail—the day after they’ve made their decision, right?)

    Here are a few more tips:

    • If the interview was with more than one person, send each one a customized note.
    • Keep the thank you concise.  It doesn’t need to be as long as a cover letter.
    • As always, remember to proofread… Don’t send a note that reads “thanks you.”

    After the thank you has been sent, wait.  If you haven’t heard from the employer by the time they specified, follow up by phone or email and express your continued interest.

    You’ll find a lot of different advice on how to say thank you.  The most important thing is that you do it – one way or another.

    ~Abbey, Career Peer Mentor

    Savvy Seniors: Finish Strong

    Silhouette of person at the light at the end of a tunnel


    Are you seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? As Spring appears and graduation nears, it’s time to dust off your motivation and get geared up for the final push of your college career.

    Advice abounds for college seniors, but here are three tried and true secrets to success in the world of work:

    • Networking is worth your time.
    • Your first job is your first job – not your destiny.
    • Professionalism will be noticed.

    All of which boils down to: Find a job that feels like it could be heading in the right direction, work hard and make a great impression and solid connections.  You’ll be glad you did:  these experiences will help you to clarify your career interests and grow your skills.

    So how do you land that first job? Use our Job Search Readiness Checklist to make sure you have your bases covered.  Note which areas you need to work on and make a strategic plan to fill those gaps in the coming weeks.  This is the time to spring into action and take advantage of all of the great resources here at UVM. For example, if you don’t feel confident with using LinkedIn to network, then come to our LinkedIn workshop every Thursday 4:15 at the Hub (while school is in session).

    Also, don’t miss the final Senior Series Workshop:
    Career Boot Camp Thursday, April 17 12-1pm at the Hub.
    Special guest Green Mountain Keurig is coming to give you the essentials you need to get job ready fast.

    Good luck as you finish the last few weeks of your college career and may the odds be ever in your favor.