How to answer “Give me an example of a time…”
I have shared this advice with many interns, students and recent grads I have had the opportunity to work with one-on-one.
How to answer interview questions such as, ‘Give me an example of a time you …’ with the STAR formula:
If you do this right, it sounds like a story, with a plot, conflict, characters, climax and conclusion.
Situation: Describe a situation, the context, the who, where, and what. For example, “Part of a course requirement was to present a policy solution for drug trafficking in South America, we were divided into groups of four and give one week”
Task: Describe what you set out to do. Be specific on what the challenge and problem. “We had only one week to outline our roles, research, analyze, synthesize a solution and develop a 15 minute presentation brief. We had two individuals who did not work well together, constantly disagreeing on how things should look, holding back progress and another, Nate, who rarely contributed and was very reserved. “
Action: Describe the action YOU took within the team to accomplish the task/solve problem how it contributed to the overall goal: “I took each team member aside one-on-one to better understand the reason for their behavior, the two who disagreed were actually motived by the same thing: they needed a good grade to pass the course, thereby their degree. Nate was shy by nature, and made more timid by the bickering of the other two. I also learned he was a skilled graphic artist. I had him redo some of the more contentious parts of the briefing. I then brought the team back together, emphasizing our mutual desire to earn a good grade, and presenting some of Nate’s work to them.
Result: Describe how the action you took solved the problem described in the situation, and the outcome. What you learned: “The two stopped bickering, mutually started showering Nate with praise, and started to bat around ideas harmoniously. I was able to channel the team’s energy into a productive ends that lead to a perfect grade. I learned to understand motivations and solve problems through taking on different perspectives.