Employers want to know what you can do for them ... in 30 seconds or less

I'm afraid that most interviews are short, and employers have a long list of things they want and need to learn about you. When they say things like "Tell me about yourself" or ask you "Tell me what you're looking for in your next job" they do NOT want more than a 30-second reply. Even more important, they want your answers to be relevant to their world. For example, as proud as I am of being my work as a counselor for at-risk teenagers, that story does not matter to a lot of other people. Neither do my stories about bartending guiding tours in Alaska. I love to tell those stories! But during interviews situations, they are rarely appropriate to share. The trick as a job seeker is to think about which stories are relevant 
before you get into a networking or interview situation.

"STAR" stories will get you ready to answer questions like these:

  • “Tell me about yourself?”
  • “What do you do for a living?”
  • “What kind of a job are you looking for?”
  • “How did you get into (your area of expertise)?”
  • “Why should I hire you?”

These questions are really important to prepare for. They are the some of the most popular conversation-starters during networking AND during job interviews. The trouble is, if you’re not ready for them they will be become conversation-killers. Relax! This next section is going to help you answer these questions with ease and a great big smile. Instead of feeling your blood run cold, you will be excited to get these questions … for two reasons: first, it will be fun to share a little bit about yourself (even if you’re an introvert!). Second, you will be confident that your response will invite a great conversation, and lead to bigger and better things (like the job you crave).

What's a "STAR" story?

I'm poking a little fun with the picture of the singer on a big stage, because STAR stories are not about celebrity status. STAR is merely an acronym for a great way to tell a story quickly. The funny thing is, many STAR stories are about a stand-out performance.

A "STAR" story is a terrific way to talk about something clearly, concisely and in a short amount of time. When you take the time to prepare a STAR story, you are much less likely to ...

  1. Freeze up. STAR stores prepare you for the tough prove-it interview question like "Give me an example of a time when you ..."
  2. Ramble. There's nothing worse than taking 3 minutes to tell a story during an interview. It's painful for everyone!
  3. Forget to mention the most important/relevant aspects of the story

Here is how you frame up a STAR story:

  • SITUATION: What was the business situation or challenge?
  • TASK: What was the task you were either asked to do (or that you decided to do on your own)
  • ACTION: What specific action (steps) did you take? It's important to clarify what you did, not what the team did. 
  • RESULT: What was the business benefit from your actions? Did you increase revenues or productivity? Decrease costs? Save a critical customer?

Another way to do this is with a PAR story

  • Problem
  • Action
  • Result