Best STAR method interview answers
The best STAR answers will help the interviewer to feel like they were there. Here are some key steps on how to
1) Clearly explain the situation - "As a Sales Representative with XYZ, one of
my responsibilities was to collaborate with my merchandisers to ensure our products had displays in multiple locations in
our accounts. That included the deli, produce, snack section and bakery departments."
Provide enough detail on the tasks and actions to have the interviewer understand specifically what you did - "We communicated
via email and text daily as we made our calls on each account. Each week we would decide who would take the lead on
asking the store management for display space and then determine which day of the week would be our goal to put up the displays.
As we went throughout the week, each merchandiser would update the team on their progress and I then shared our results with
my manager. I took pictures of our displays, entered location and product information into our online system for tracking
purposes, restocked main section shelving and reordered product to ensure zero out of stock items."
The results are the most important part of the STAR answer so think of it as the punchline to a joke and make it impactful
- "Because we had a consistent communication system as a collaborative team, we increased sales in our accounts by 25%
versus last year and I was recognized as Top Sales Representative for the Southwest Region in 2022."
You graduated from college - now what?
Turn on any morning news show this time of the year and you will find someone talking about what college graduates should
be doing after the graduation ceremony. Whether a graduate has a job setup or not, there are some things everyone should
consider doing as they move into the next phase of life...
- Update social media
- If you have a new job, make sure that's on your LinkedIn profile and post it on Instagram/Facebook so your employer sees
your excitement about joining their team. If you are still in job search mode, note that on LI so prospective employers can
find you and make sure you are following companies you want to work for on their social media too.
- Get organized
- If you will be working at home (either parttime or fulltime), clean out the space for your office, throw away old
files or store them, purchase basic materials and identify how you want to organize work product. If you are starting a new
job - or staying in a current one - do a late Spring cleaning so you start post-graduation with a fresh work area.
Refresh your tech - Clean up your hard drive and cloud - you don't need your freshman year English essays
anymore. Save those old files to a jump drive and start your post-grad life with lots of space electronically.
What should job seekers do if they realize mid-interview that they don't want the position?
It's important to first determine if there would possibly be any other
positions in that company that you might want to apply for now or in the future. If not, then it is appropriate to politely
tell the interviewer that you are not interested any more - here are some tactful ways to do that.
· "Before I
answer any other questions, I wanted to thank you for sharing more information about the position and company. Based
on this information, I believe there may be other candidates that are a better fit for this position so I am going to remove
myself from the hiring process at this time. Thank you for your consideration of me as a candidate."
· "Thank you for sharing more information about the position and responsibilities.
I apologize for any inconvenience to your schedule, but I believe that my current career goals are not a fit for this position
at this time so I am gong to remove myself from the interview process. I appreciate your time and your consideration of me
as a candidate."
For job seekers that don't want to verbally address this,
the other option (and the one to use if there is potential to apply for other positions in the future) is to write an email
immediately after the interview informing the person that you have decided to opt out. Something like this:
"I appreciate your time today. After our meeting and having a greater understanding
of the requirements for this position, I have decided to remove myself from the process. At this time, I believe there
will be other candidates that are a better fit for your needs."
key is to remain professional and honest to save time for the employer and you during the hiring process.
Quick Tips to Get Started Transitioning Careers
1) Identify what you do and don't like about your
This step lets you figure out the responsibilities and activities that you want to look
for in your next role, and which ones you may want to steer away from. If your past experience is personnel management
heavy and you want to be more project management focused in your next job then search specifically for positions with that.
Going through this exercise will also increase the chances that you will find an opportunity that you will enjoy and want
to stay in.
2) Find a job board site (or sites) that feature jobs in the industry you want
to transition to and at the level of expertise you have to offer a company.
Job boards offer a wide
range of postings, but doing research on where the companies you want to target post their jobs will maximize your time when
you are online. Consider posting a generic version of your resume on a larger site (Indeed, Zip Recruiter) so companies
can find you when they post jobs aligned with your experience. Take time on LinkedIn to update all of your information
and follow companies you may want to transition to - you will be notified when they post jobs on the site, so this is a time
saver. 3) Update all your documentation that you will use throughout the process; resume, cover letter/intro
email, work product examples, and follow up communication.
Updating your resume is obvious,
but you can prepare for all of the hiring steps before they happen to lessen last minute stress when you get an interview.
Have a few different templates ready for introducing yourself via email to people in your network or for posting on company
sites if they ask for a cover letter - keep these brief and to the point focused on the skills the company needs and your
specific experience. Organize documentation that shows your abilities and results achieved in your past jobs including
performance reviews, communication from your manager and co-workers noting your accomplishments, and non-proprietary work
examples to show as visual aids during interviews. Create follow up communication that can be tailored based on your
discussions with hiring personnel - be sure to highlight specifics on why you are a match for the position and thank them
for their time and consideration of you as a candidate.
Why do I need a network in my career?
For some people the topic of networking is overwhelming while others actively network on a daily basis.
According to data from LinkedIn, 43% of people currently have a strong network which means 57% of us need to be focusing
more energy on this to further our career. Your network can be crucial to your career no matter what phase
you are in. Here are some things to consider as you evaluate the current state of your network and determine
an action plan moving forward:
Is your network solid enough to support you in finding a new job? It’s
interesting to note that workers are 2x more likely to get a new job from weak connections than from direct ones.
This means it’s not only “who you know”, but “who do they know?” As
you look at your current network, are you being strategic about adding new people who have friends that may be able to guide
you to a future career opportunity.
Where are you tracking your network and it’s growth?
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, now’s the time to consider joining. You can make Connections,
see your Connections network, and follow companies that you may want to work for in the future. Building
your network should also include other websites tailored to your profession and organizations that you can affiliate with
to meet and communicate with people in your industry.
· How are you supporting
the people in your network? When someone reaches out to you and asks for an introduction, are
you responding right away that you are happy to help? As people find you online and ask to connect, do
you add them and send a personal hello message? If you find an article, webinar, resource that would help
others do you share that on your social media and/or via email? These are just a few ideas on how you can
collaborate and support the people in your network on a regular basis.
New Year Checklist for Your Career
As you think about your New Year’s resolutions, remember to include your professional goals.
This doesn’t mean you need to necessarily find a new job – the goals can be small but impactful with results
in 2023. Here are some categories to consider putting on your list:
Training/Education: When was the last time you learned something
new that could assist you with your job? Computer/tech skills, time management and communication techniques
are common ones to think about. Depending on your role there may be other educational opportunities internally
or through external companies that are cost-free as an employee.
Did you purge your office/workspace at the end of the year? When does your company’s fiscal
year end and take time then (or plan to now) to go through files, clean up your email communication into folders, create new
files/folders for 2023 and clean off your whiteboard and/or get a new planner.
Think about your current network at your company and outside of your company in your industry or partner/collaborative
industries. Have you limited your network to people you have to interact with? Are their
people in certain roles or companies that you would like to start communicating with to potentially add to your network?
Your career is a lifelong journey and the people in your network could be pivotal in assisting you to make changes
or move forward in the future.
Skill building doesn't only happen at work
Every activity you participate in can be an opportunity to build or master skills. Take
a few minutes to evaluate how you are learning new skills and/or perfecting existing ones over the summer months:
– think about the activities you do when you give your time to volunteer organizations - maybe you share your analytical,
creative, technological, or leadership skills.
- Family time – we sometimes forget that some of the most
important skills we use in our jobs are mastered at home - communication, organization, time management, and problem-solving
skills could all fall into this category.
- Professional organizations – when you interact with peers
in your industry or others, are you sharing your expertise? Have you gained skills from these people that will translate
into your work experiences?
Summer Vacation Career Checklist
Heading on a summer vacation and still want to feel productive? This is a great time to take a
few minutes to create a ‘to do' list for your career. Not only are you more relaxed on vacation, but you're probably
able to take time to be reflective. Here are some ideas to stimulate your thoughts...
What administrative tasks do you need to do (i.e., update your resume)?
- When did you last update your online profiles?
If it's been more than 6 months, it's time...
- Are there new network contacts that you need to connect with online?
Do you have new responsibilities at work that you need to start documenting in preparation for your next professional development
discussion with management?
- Are there skills you want to learn (i.e., language, technology)?
- Who do you
need to write a thank you email to (personally and professionally)?
Back to the office negotiations
The Today Show this morning had a segment on how to manage a few things in your job as you return to the office.
The tips were helpful and here are some additional ideas on how to prepare for your annual/semi-annual performance review:
- Explain your value to the job/department - During the year, take
note of your activities that produce results and gather information to bring to the review about how you personally have affected
change/made an impact/contributed to the team.
- Don't hesitate to brag - A performance discussion
should always include recognition that you received - internally and/or externally. Share emails from co-workers/management/customers,
formal recognition (awards), and details about verbal discussions where people identified you as an exceptional performer.
Make an appointment - This meeting should be planned out - by you and the person you report to.
The most effective performance reviews happen with both parties have time to collect information about actions and activities.
The preparation is crucial to having a productive discussion that helps you move forward in achieving your career goals.
Why you may not be getting that job
According to the news, there are many jobs available in different industries. If you are a current job seeker
who is struggling to find a position, here are some things that may be getting you blocked and ways to navigate the process
- Software is blocking your resume from human eyes. Applicant tracking
systems are being used by many companies regardless of size. Some aspects of how these will interpret your resume you can't
necessarily anticipate, but some are obvious. The biggest key is to read the job description carefully and use as many similar
words as possible in your resume. This is especially important with technical skills and certifications/licensures.
Submitting your resume online is only one approach. If you are relying on your resume to be the only form of communication
you use to initiate contact with employers, you are missing important job search activities. Email and/or call the HR department
to confirm your resume was received and explain your interest in the position. Do you know the name of the hiring manager?
Communicate via email to them and sell yourself - remember to attach the resume you submitted online too.
people know you are looking. You don't need to necessarily post on your LinkedIn profile that you are searching, but
you definitely should message people in your network that could lead you to your next career opportunity. Don't forget to
let your family and friends know that you are searching - never know who knows someone who can assist you.
Expanding your network for career development
Whether you are back in person at work or staying at home for your job, this is a good time to expand your network.
If you aren't on LinkedIn®, there may be alternative ways to increase your contacts depending on your industry.
No matter what online platform you are using, here are tips to be effective when adding to your network.
Personalize your request message. Avoid using the default message on websites when requesting that people
connect with you or provide you their contact information. Be specific about why you are interested reaching out to them and
keep your message brief.
- Follow up once you are connected. Take the time to send a thank you message
to anyone who honors your request. If you would like to talk to them about a certain topic or get to know them beyond the
website (ie: send emails directly to them), this is a good time to get their information to communicate outside the site.
Be prepared to get more requests to connect. Once you start increasing your network, all of those people's
contacts will now see that you are connected. You may start to get requests from people who aren't necessarily relevant to
your career goals and network objectives. Quality is much more important than quantity for a valuable network, so don't just
add people to have a certain number on the website.
Effective preparation and execution for virtual career fairs
Employers may be changing the way they hire with our current social distancing, so as a candidate you need to be
sure you prepare for the new methods. Here are some best practices to help you present your skills effectively.
- Location is important. Find a place in your home that you can be completely undisturbed
with complete quiet. Since the interviewer will be able to see you, there should not be anything in the background that would
be distracting to the employer. Try to find a blank wall that will keep the person focused on what you are saying.
Prepare as if you were going to meet with the interviewer in person. A video interview is just like
an in person interview - dress for the interview by wearing a suit or equally appropriate attire for your industry and the
position you are applying for.
- Understand your technology. Identify what web platform
or program you will be using and if you need to download it a few days in advance so you can make sure you won't have buffering
issues for the interview. Determine how to position yourself for the best visual appearance on the webcam. Check your speaking
volume and get a separate microphone if necessary. Detachable microphones are very affordable and can make the most soft spoken
person sound confident and interview appropriate.
- Practice with a friend to improve your skills. Have
someone help you to establish what volume you should have on both your microphone and your speakers. Practice your speaking
level with a friend. Get online with someone you trust and practice your tone and level of speech. Deliver answers to commonly
asked questions, and questions you anticipate that are industry or position specific.
like Goodwill are helping job seekers find employers through virtual career fairs like this one - Goodwill Virtual Career Fair Event
How can an ATS change the way you job search?
Whether you know it or not, an ATS- Applicant Tracking System - may be looking at your resume long before any human
does at your next employer. These software programs search for the best candidates based on the resumes and/or online
applications they submit. After you submit your resume or application the system identifies words and /or phrases that
are a match for the position based on the job description. Here's what you need to do to keep your resume ‘in
play' for this type of screening:
- Be aware that this technology could be in play with
any size organization. Don't assume that a small company won't use this program to maximize their hiring process time.
Closely evaluate the job description and tailor your resume language to fit the wording in the posting. Use the same keywords
that are in the job description in your resume wherever possible. Don't overstate your skills just to ‘match' words
- employers will figure out that candidates have done that eventually and they will no longer be considered for the job.
Upload a document in the format the company is requesting. Candidates can stay best prepared by always having a Word document
that they can quickly update and then change into PDF if the company is requesting that format.
Three things you must do to start this decade
Now that a new decade has arrived, it's time to get ready for any career opportunities that may be headed your way.
Even if you aren't anticipating a job search, the start of a new year can help you dust off your documents, update your online
presence, and increase your chances to expand your network. So if you haven't already taken the time to do this - here
are the three things to do now:
1. Dig out your career documents and update
them... Find your most recent resume and cover letter and make sure all the dates are correct, the content is accurate,
and new information is added. Don't forget to remove outdated things too - expired licensure or certifications, professional
groups you don't participate in anymore, volunteering your haven't done for years, etc. If you keep a ‘brag book',
double check that you have added all of your 2019 documents so it's ready to go when you need it. This is also the perfect
time to start writing down information for a thorough and positive performance discussion with your boss.
Check your online presence... When did you update your profile pictures on LinkedIn, Facebook, and any other
career relevant platforms? Review your profile information to make it current with organizations, your work experience,
volunteering, training, technical skills, language skills, and any licensing or certifications you secured in 2019.
3. Plan your 2020 networking activities... Even if you have
500+ Connections in LinkedIn, you should have an annual plan on how you want to increase or modify your network. This
could include professional affiliations to join, specific groups you follow on Facebook or LinkedIn, continuing education
activities you attend, or internal cross-training you ask to participate in. The key is making a plan with multiple
steps and options so if one doesn't meet your goal you can select something different to build your network in the new decade.
Jump start your job search
Kids are back in school and for some parents it is also back into the hunt for a new job. This is actually
a good time of the year to look since companies are also planning for either the second or fourth quarter of their fiscal
year. So, if you are getting ready to put your skills on the market, there are some steps you need to take before you
click away on job search engines...
- Step One - dust off your last resume
version and get it ready to go. Before you start adding content, remove anything not relevant to this job search and update
ending dates on any organization involvement and work experience.
- Step Two - add any training or
technical or language skills that you may have learned or increased your level of expertise in since your last resume update.
This includes any certifications or licensure that is new as well.
- Step Three - double check your
social media presence - LinkedIN, Facebook, even Twitter and Instagram if those are platforms that apply to your industry
(graphic arts, entertainment, arts etc.) Make sure that you have a current/appropriate picture, and update anything that you
also updated on your resume.
- Step Four - communicate with your personal and professional network.
Let your friends and family know you are entering the job market. If you have past colleagues that would be helpful with connections
and/or introductions email them too.
- Step Five - get your interviewing skills up to speed. Analyze
the job descriptions you apply to and anticipate interview questions and then PRACTICE! There is no substitute for actually
having another person you trust ask you questions and then give you constructive feedback on your answers to make you better.
Ready for a transition?
If you are considering a career transition, it's important to evaluate what industries will be growing in the near
term. Some roles may be changing due to progress in technology so that should also be a factor to identify.
According to the Spring issue of HR Magazine, there are certain occupations that are in-demand worldwide. These professions
have been among the most difficult jobs to fill over the past ten years.
- Skilled trades
- Office support
- Manufacturing roles
Skills every manager should have (or get)
Whether you are currently a manager or want to create a plan to become one, there are some key skills that you need
to have for success in the workplace. Here are a few that are not industry specific and can be necessary regardless
of what level manager you are:
- Problem-solving...Being able to identify
solutions in project management and people management is crucial.
- Strategic thinking...Looking
beyond today's situations and planning for future goals not only helps develop a vision for your team, but it shows your long-term
commitment to the company.
- Negotiation...This is important in your team's collaboration and also
in your ability to work with other departments internally.
- Change management...We live in a global
economy that is diverse and ever-changing. Showing your employer that you are not afraid of change and can coach others through
those times increases your value to the organization.
What makes an internship valuable?
This question can be posed from both sides of the internship relationship - the employee and the employer.
The answer is the same for both - an internship is valuable when it's result is a win-win for both parties. As a student/employee
you will want to produce work that contributes to the company while learning new skills and/or building upon existing ones.
As the employer, you want to have results from the employee that help your projects and overall goals while also developing
a potential pipeline.
Here are some ways for employers to build internship programs that will result in the ultimate
- Offer paid and unpaid internships. Paid internships are important
for students to have during the summer and typically will be several hours a week since they aren't in school. Unpaid internships
can be effective during the school year and should have part-time hours because the students will also be juggling school
and extracurricular activities.
- Plan the intern's work and offer varied tasks. Having a student
show up without a plan for their day will result in frustration on both sides. Create a work plan with goals, timelines, and
check in meetings so everyone can stay on track and consistently communicate changes.
- Assign a mentor for
each intern. Even if you have multiple interns in one department, each person should have an employee that will be
their point of contact to ask questions, offer ideas, and get feedback from. There should be weekly communication with the
intern to assess progress on work and address any concerns.
- Determine strengths and potential long-term fit.
As the intern learns about the company culture and begins to produce work, employers should be identifying what their
pipeline needs are and how the intern could fill future positions.
Four skills entry-level hires need to have
A recent Wall Street Journal article addressed how the landscape has changed for both employers and entry-level new
hires. The expectations for skills will obviously vary based on industry, but there are some key categories of skills
that people moving into entry-level positions should be able to exhibit in order to secure a job.
Communication - Even if your comfort zone is minimal contact outside your workspace, employers are expecting
you to be able to interact. This can include communication with clients, internal contacts, and vendors.
- This should probably more accurately be phrased ‘active listening/problem solving'. Being able to hear what
issues are occurring internally or externally and then determine an action plan to move forward is an important skill in the
- Numeracy - You don't have to be an accountancy major or have a background in math to
show your abilities in this area. Knowledge of software programs using numerical information such as Excel will allow you
to analyze information effectively.
- Adaptability - Do you consider yourself a lifelong learner?
Are you willing to take on a project even if you need to learn a new process or method to achieve the goal? Employers want
to know that their team is going to learn new skills as their job changes and they move into greater areas of responsibility.
May graduates need to be strategic in interviews
It's that time of year - college graduates are finalizing their studying and determining what they will be doing
as a career starting this summer. New college graduates should understand that there are certain ways to increase your
competitive chances in the interview process. A recent SHRM article shared some tips straight from the hiring experts
that can help you beat the other candidates.
- Personal presence is important
and it includes assessing and modifying your social media. Be sure that the various ways an employer can ‘see' you all
show your enthusiasm, confidence, and professionalism to be successful in the workplace.
- Be a storyteller.
Interviewers want to thoroughly understand how you have used your skills in the past to produce results in school,
work, and extracurricular activities. Answer questions with specific examples that will make them feel like they were right
there with you and be sure to include the impact you had in each situation.
- Ask thoughtful questions.
At the end of every interview you are given an opportunity to ask questions so plan in advance and to research to make the
most of this chance. Think about questions that give you more information about the job responsibilities, opportunities to
use your skills, and ways you can contribute to the overall team success.